Interferon, nasoferon
Interferon, nasoferon iStock

A drug may have been found that will dramatically help reduce the number of coronavirus patients in need of intensive care hospitalization.

The British Synairgen biotech company claims that clinical trials it conducted on an innovative treatment that includes introducing a protein that fights infections into the human body, resulted in a 79 percent decrease in the number of coronavirus patients who needed intensive care or ventilation.

According to the company, participants in the clinical trial inhaled the interferon protein that the body produces independently when it fights infections. The protein was inhaled by the trial participants directly into their lungs to test whether it will elicit an immune response to coronavirus infection.

"Our drug is a special formulation of interferon beta that we deliver directly to the airways when the virus is there”, explained Synairgen CEO Richard Marsden.

"What we've shown in our research is that older people, and people with some chronic conditions, have a poor interferon beta response when there's a virus present. Coronavirus does the same thing."

Findings showed a 79 percent decrease in the number of patients who needed intensive care or ventilation after inhaling a strong dose of the interferon protein. "Patients were two- to three-times more likely to recover, and reached a point where daily activities were unimpaired by their coronavirus infection. The trial also indicated very significant reduction in respiratory problems among patients who received the treatment.

"In addition, the average time patients were hospitalized was reduced by a third for those who received the new drug, from nine days to six days," Synairgen said of the clinical trial. They said "if the results are confirmed in larger studies" the new treatment will be "game-changing".

The trial was relatively small, but results were exceptionally impressive. "Synairgen CEO Richard Marsden told the BBC that "we couldn't hope for much better results than these. This is a significant breakthrough in the treatment of hospitalized coronavirus patients."

He said the company will present the findings of their clinical trial to medical regulators around the world over the next two days to see what additional information they need to confirm the treatment's efficacy.