Trials start on inhaled drug for COVID-19
A team of scientists at the University of Southampton have announced a trial of an inhaled drug that may help people reduce the symptoms of COVID-19. This trial is being supported by the NIHR through its Respiratory Translational Research Collaboration (R-TRC).
The SNG001 study is a collaboration between the University of Southampton, University Hospital Southampton, and the drug development company Synairgen. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Health Research Authority (HRA) have approved the trial which is looking at the benefit of an inhaled formulation of interferon-beta-1a in COVID-19 patients to potentially assist in reducing symptoms.
The trial is being led by Professor Tom Wilkinson, a consultant in respiratory medicine at University Hospital Southampton and professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Southampton, will initially involve 100 patients at Southampton and up to 10 other NHS hospitals taking part.
Phase II clinical trials in asthmatic patients have previously shown that SNG001 is well tolerated, enhances the lungs' antiviral defences and improves lung function during cold or flu infection. The trial is due to begin next week.
The NIHR Respiratory-TRC brings together ten leading centres in respiratory medicine across the UK and is ideally placed to help support rapid research into potential treatments for COVID-19. The R-TRC’s internationally recognised experts are working together to accelerate the development of new treatments for a range of respiratory conditions.
Since its formation, the R-TRC has initiated, carried out and supported a wide range of research into respiratory illness. The R-TRC is currently in the process of supporting a variety of early stage studies and trials which relate to COVID-19, including those of diagnostic tests and drugs for relieving symptoms of the virus.
Richard Marsden, CEO of Synairgen, commented: “We have worked intensively with the relevant authorities and collaborators to enable SNG001 to be assessed in COVID-19 patients. SNG001 has been well tolerated in clinical trials in over 200 respiratory patients to date and has accelerated lung function recovery in two Phase II asthma trials in patients with a cold or flu infection. A successful outcome from this trial in COVID-19 patients would be a major breakthrough in the fight against this coronavirus pandemic.”
Professor Tom Wilkinson, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Southampton and Trial Chief Investigator, added: “We are facing an unprecedented health challenge with COVID-19 which desperately requires the rapid development of new therapeutic strategies. There are a limited number of candidate new treatments available and so it is vital we can rapidly generate high quality evidence on the role of these in COVID-19 patients. The UK research delivery and regulatory teams have worked incredibly effectively to enable this world leading trial to achieve approvals so rapidly which has enabled our motivated and highly expert team of researchers to get this vital study running straight away.”
Professor Stephen Holgate, Medical Research Council (MRC) Professor of Immunopharmacology, concluded: “The reduced innate immune response that exists in the lung of those at most risk of serious COVID-19 disease such as older people and those with pre-existing lung disease makes such patients ideal candidates to receive inhaled SNG001 to replace their interferon deficiency. This is especially so because SARS-CoV-2, along with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, is equipped to evade this first line of viral defence. In the absence of a suitable vaccine, increasing the host’s own immunity to enhance protection and virus elimination would seem a logical therapeutic approach.”