British Pharmaceutical Says Coronavirus Drug Trial Shows Possible ‘Major Breakthrough’

A British pharmaceutical company on Monday announced that results from a clinical trial of a new coronavirus treatment could signal a “major breakthrough” in the battle against COVID-19.

Synairgen, a respiratory drug discovery and development company, said in a news release that the trial showed the odds of developing severe symptoms was cut by 79% for hospitalized patients who received its nebulizer treatment.

Patients who received the drug, SNG001, were more than twice as likely to recover and have no limitation of activities “over the course of the treatment period compared to those receiving a placebo,” the company said.

“We are all delighted with the trial results announced today, which showed that SNG001 greatly reduced the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients who progressed from ‘requiring oxygen’ to ‘requiring ventilation,'” Synairgen CEO Richard Marsden said in the release. “This assessment of SNG001 in COVID-19 patients could signal a major breakthrough in the treatment of hospitalized 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.”

Professor Stephen Holgate, Medical Research Council Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton and Co-Founder of Synairgen, said: “Recognising that SARS-CoV-2 is known to have evolved to evade the initial antiviral response of the lung, our inhaled treatment of giving high local concentrations of interferon beta, a naturally occurring antiviral protein, restores the lung’s ability to neutralise the virus, or any mutation of the virus or co-infection with another respiratory virus such as influenza or RSV, as could be encountered in the winter if there is a resurgence of COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, Oxford University scientists announced Monday that their experimental coronavirus vaccine resulted in protective immune responses in hundreds of patients tested in a trial.

In the test of the vaccine, given to 500 people starting in April, scientists said the shots produced “a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55 that lasted at least two months after they were immunized,” The Associated Press reported.

“We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody,” said Dr. Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University. “What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system,” he said. The research was published Monday in the journal Lancet.

“Hill said that neutralizing antibodies are produced — molecules which are key to blocking infection. In addition, the vaccine also causes a reaction in the body’s T-cells, which help by destroying cells that have been taken over by the virus,” the AP reported. “The experimental COVID-19 vaccine caused minor side effects like fever, chills and muscle pain more often than in those who got a control meningitis vaccine.”

“There’s increasing evidence that having a T-cell response as well as antibodies could be very important in controlling COVID-19,” Hill said. He suggested the immune response might be boosted after a second dose; in a small number of people, their trial tested two doses administered about four weeks apart.

Larger trials are planned, one involving about 10,000 people in the United Kingdom and another in the U.S., which would enroll about 30,000 people. Hill said Oxford is joining with drugmaker AstraZeneca to produce the vaccine worldwide, and that the company has committed to making 2 billion doses.


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