Coronavirus: UK hospital trials new treatment drug

Posted: May 11th 2020


We need to hear more about the drive for a vaccine – it would reassure people. This is not quite in that league but it’s a heartening story. It tells us

A new drug developed by UK scientists to treat Covid-19 patients is being trialled at University Hospital Southampton. 

Developed by UK bio-tech company Synairgen, it uses a protein called interferon beta, which our bodies produce when we get a viral infection. 

Initial results from the trial are expected by the end of June.

There are currently few effective treatments for coronavirus with doctors relying on patients' immune systems.

Interferon beta is part of the body's first line of defence against viruses, warning it to expect a viral attack, explains Richard Marsden, chief executive of Southampton-based Synairgen.

He says the coronavirus seems to suppress its production as part of its strategy to evade our immune systems.

The drug is a special formulation of interferon beta delivered directly to the airways when the virus is there, with the hope that a direct dose of the protein will trigger a stronger anti-viral response even in patients whose immune systems are already weak.