Preliminary results from the clinical trial of a protein drug show that the number of COVID-19 patients in need of intensive care treatment can be significantly reduced.
The drug is produced by Synairgen, a respiratory drug discovery and development company, based in Southampton, UK.
The treatment uses a protein called interferon beta which the body produces when infected with a virus.
The protein is inhaled directly into the lungs of COVID-19 patients.
Its initial findings showed that the treatment reduces the odds of a COVID-19 patient in hospital developing severe complications, such as requiring ventilation, by 79 percent.
According to Synairgen, patients are two to three times more likely to recover to the point of engaging in routine activities.
The double-blind placebo-controlled trial involved 101 volunteers admitted for treatment at nine hospitals for COVID-19 infections in the UK.
It was conducted between March 30 and May 27.
In a statement on Monday, Richard Marsden, chief executive officer of Synairgen, said the company is delighted by the preliminary findings.
He said the treatment significantly reduced breathlessness, which is considered as one of the main symptoms of severe COVID-19 cases.
Marsden said the company is now focused on intensifying efforts on developing the treatment.
“We are all delighted with the trial results announced today, which showed that SNG001 greatly reduced the number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients who progressed from requiring oxygen to requiring ventilation,” he said.
“It also showed that patients who received SNG001 were at least twice as likely to recover to the point where their everyday activities were not compromised through having been infected by SARS-CoV-2.
“In addition, SNG001 has significantly reduced breathlessness, one of the main symptoms of severe COVID-19. This assessment of SNG001 in COVID-19 patients could signal a major breakthrough in the treatment of hospitalised COVID-19 patients.
“Our efforts are now focused on working with the regulators and other key groups to progress this potential COVID-19 treatment as rapidly as possible.”
Although results of the findings have not been published in any peer-reviewed journal, Tom Wilkinson, the scientist in charge of the trial, said the new treatment will be “a game changer” if confirmed in larger studies.
Globally, over 14.6 million COVID-19 cases have been reported with more than 609,000 deaths.
However, more than eight million patients have recovered from the infection.