An inhaled form of interferon – a drug commonly used to treat multiple sclerosis by injection – according to one British drug manufacturer may help prevent hospitalized Kovid-19 patients from worsening.
The results were first released in July, but were published on Thursday as a peer-reviewed study in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
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The body naturally releases interferon when confronted with some type of invader, such as a virus or other pathogen. As the name suggests, it works by interfering with viral replication. Some researchers have suggested that Kovid-19 patients lack interferon, especially in their blood and lungs.
In theory, increasing the levels of interferon in the body will help patients fight diseases such as Kovid-19.
Indeed, a study published in May suggested that coronovirus inhibits the body’s natural interferon response.
Previous tests, called Solidarity, found that an infusion of the drug did not aid in reducing Kovid-19’s death or healing patients faster.
A new study by Synairgen, a pharmaceutical company based in the UK, used an inhaled type of interferon, called interferon beta-1a (SNG41). In this case, the drug is delivered directly to the respiratory tract.
The study was small, including only 98 patients who were ill last spring. About half received actual medication every day for two weeks. The rest got placebo. The researchers followed their progress for a month.
The study authors wrote that the interferon group “had a greater likelihood of improvement and recovered more rapidly from SARS-CoV-2 infection than did patients receiving placebo.” SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes Kovid-19.
Those who received the drug were twice as likely to improve to 15 or 16 a day.
Interferon “may have the potential as an inhaled drug to restore lung immune response and accelerate recovery from Kovid-19,” study author Tom Wilkinson of the University of Southampton in the UK wrote in a media release. That is, the drug may work better if it is delivered directly to the lungs rather than through blood.
“If I give you one injection of interferon, and you get a quantity of minuscule on the lung, it seems that I did not give you anything. You would not expect that you would benefit.” Critical care services for Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital at North Shore University Hospital, part of Northwell Health, in Long Island, New York. Cassier was not involved in the study of earthly interferons.
But, he said, when you put that medicine in a form that can be inhaled, “and you get direct congestion in the lung tissue, you can get very high levels of the drug. If If the medicine works, then you would expect there to be some benefit. “
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The study was too truncated by the researchers to make a statement about the potential benefit of interferon from any potential side effects. Built-in forms of interferon are not approved for use in the US
In IV or injectable forms, interferon can cause flu-like symptoms, joint pain, and fever.
In a commentary accompanying the study, Nathan Pfeiffer-Smadeja in Assistance Publique – Enucrypitax de Paris, France, reported that the timing of interferon administration may be important. Immune reactions can be beneficial early in the course of a disease, but may aggravate a disease later.
It is clear that in some Kovid-19 patients a hyper-inflammatory reaction is harmful, known as “cytokine storm”. Indeed, interferon is a cytokine. Pfeffer-Smadja, who was not included in the new study, wrote that “there is a need to study whether there is an effect of interferon beta-1a on long-term symptoms, especially pulmonary.”
If the results are confirmed in larger trials, the drug may provide a major benefit to out-of-pocket epidemics at hospitals across the country.
Researchers are now testing respiratory interventions in Kovid-19 people who are not ill enough to be hospitalized.
“If it keeps preliminary data,” Kaiser said, “then this therapy may lead to a decrease in more advanced disease and penetrating patients in my ICU.”
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