British pharma firm claims small trial on a coronavirus treatment could signal ‘major breakthrough’

British pharmaceutical company Synairge claims its new respiratory coronavirus treatment has reduced the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients needing intensive care in a clinical trial.

The company said its nebulizer treatment produced a 79% lower risk of patients developing severe disease than those given a placebo in initial trials. It said patients who received the treatment “were more than twice as likely to recover (defined as ‘no limitation of activities’ or ‘no clinical or virological evidence of infection’) over the course of the treatment period compared to those receiving placebo.”

The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal and has not released the full data.

The drug, SNG001, is a formulation of a naturally occurring antiviral protein called interferon beta that’s inhaled directly into the lungs in the hope of stimulating an immune response. The treatment is aimed at preventing infected patients deteriorating from requiring oxygen to being placed on a ventilator.

“This assessment of SNG001 in Covid-19 patients could signal a major breakthrough in the treatment of hospitalized Covid-19 patients,” said Synairgen CEO Richard Marsden.

“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.”

The double-blind placebo-controlled trial studied 101 patients from nine specialist hospital sites in the U.K. between March 30 and May 27.

The trial’s chief investigator, Tom Wilkinson, lauded a “momentous coordinated effort” and said the results confirmed researchers’ belief that interferon beta has “huge potential as an inhaled drug to be able to restore the lung’s immune response, enhancing protection, accelerating recovery and countering the impact.”

Synairgen will now have to present the findings to regulators around the world, and will hope to follow antiviral drug remdesivir in receiving emergency approval from the British government.

British investment bank FinnCap tripled Synairgen’s target price from 120p per share to 360p per share in response to the news.

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