Speed Reads

Solving COVID

Coronavirus treatment reduces number of intensive care patients in clinical trial, biotech firm says

The British biotech firm Synairgen is flaunting not-yet-released clinical trial results that the company says suggest a new coronavirus treatment could reduce the number of intensive care patients, the BBC reports.

The trial results, which the BBC was not able to independently confirm, reportedly indicated that treating hospitalized patients with a protein called interferon beta cut the odds of those patients developing severe forms of COVID-19 by 79 percent, significantly reduced breathlessness, and shrunk the average hospitalization time from nine to six days.

The new drug is a special formulation of interferon beta — a viral defense mechanism that coronavirus seemingly suppresses to evade the body's immune system — delivered to the airways by a nebulizer which turns the protein into an aerosol. The hope is that the direct dose can boost an antiviral response, even in patients with weaker immune systems, BBC notes.

While Synairgen is enthusiastic about the drug and plans to present its findings to medical regulators around the world in the next few days, other scientists told BBC they're reserving judgment until they see full results of the small trial, indicating that releasing the preliminary data was premature on Synairgen's part. Read more at BBC.