Immune system protein inhalation could alleviate Covid-19 severity: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on November 14, 2020

Could help in lessening the cases of hospitalisation

A new study claimed that hospitalised patients who received an inhaled form of immune system protein were less likely to have serious Covid-19 symptoms.

The findings of the study were published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

The study stated that an inhaled form of the protein interferon beta-1a could alleviate the clinical consequences of Covid-19.

The scientists, including those from the University of Southampton in the UK, suggested that this would help in lessening the cases of hospitalisation. However, further study is required to corroborate their findings.

In the study, the authors noted that the molecule interferon-beta is a naturally occurring protein that coordinates the body's immune response to viral infections.

Earlier studies had observed that the novel coronavirus directly curb the release of interferon-beta and clinical trials demonstrated decreased activity of this protein in Covid-19 patients.

While the new study said that the formulation of interferon beta called SNG001 was directly delivered to the lungs via inhalation and its safety and efficacy to treat hospitalised Covid-19 patients were evaluated.

For the study, researchers compared the effects of SNG001 and placebo given to patients once daily for up to 14 days and followed up patients for a maximum of 28 days after starting the treatment.

Of the 101 patients enrolled in the study, they said 98 were given the treatment in the trial -- 48 received SNG001, and 50 received a placebo.

At the outset of the trial 66 patients required oxygen supplementation at baseline, the scientists said.

The researchers noticed that patients who received SNG001 were twice as likely to show an improvement in their clinical condition at day 15 or 16, compared with the placebo group.

In the placebo group, the researchers said 11 of 50 patients developed a severe disease or died between the first dose and day 15 or 16, compared with six of 48 patients who received SNG001.

The researchers further elaborated that over the 14-day treatment period, patients who received SNG001 were more than twice as likely to recover, compared to those in the placebo group -- with 21 patients in the SNG001 group recovering compared with 11 in the placebo group.

According to the study, SNG001 patients were over three times more likely to recover than patients receiving a placebo at 28 days.

Study lead author, Tom Wilkinson from the University of Southampton in the UK said in a statement: "The results confirm our belief that interferon beta, a widely known drug approved for use in its injectable form for other indications, may have the potential as an inhaled drug to restore the lung's immune response and accelerate recovery from Covid-19."

Published on November 14, 2020

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