Soton’s Faculty of Medicine to lead a drug trial into treatment of COVID-19

The lung drug could help those most at risk from the coronavirus

Researches at the University of Southampton are leading a drug trial into the treatment of the coronavirus.

The inhaled drug could prevent worsening of Covid-19 in those most at risk. Tom Wilkinson, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the university is leading the trial.

The trial is said to begin within weeks, and will involve 100 patients at University Hospital Southampton and up to 10 other NHS hospitals taking part across the country. The patients will be given either a placebo or the drug (SNG001) for 14 days while receiving the best current Covid-19 care, according to a university news report that was published last Wednesday.

The drug contains the naturally occurring antiviral protein called interferon beta. Those most at risk from Covid-19 including older people and those with some chronic diseases have lower levels of interferon beta, the Southampton researchers have shown.

The medicine is designed to boost the patient’s immune system to help them fight off the virus. It can be self-administered through a small hand-held battery-operated nebulizer.

Professor Wilkinson told the university, “COVID19 is presenting a major challenge to vulnerable patients, the health service and wider society. Whilst a vaccine will be key, that could be some time away.

“Right now we need effective frontline treatments to give doctors the tools to treat the most vulnerable and to help patients recover quickly, as the pressure on the health systems mounts.”

The trial will be carried out with Synairgen, a drug development company founded by University of Southampton Professors. The CEO of Synairgen, Richard Marsden said “A successful outcome from this trial in COVID-19 patients would be a major breakthrough in the fight against this coronavirus pandemic.”

If the results from the trial are positive, it could be expanded to more hospitals, and the level of drug production increased.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Soton’s ‘no detriment policy’ means your grades can’t go below your current average

Soton classes and exams have moved online for the rest of the year

‘I want my money back’: Soton students have their say on the uni closures