A new treatment for the novel coronavirus has proven highly successful in helping patients in the UK recover, according to local media on Monday.

Synairgen, a company based in Southampton, south England, developed a drug taken via inhaler and have been testing it since March.

The drug, called SNG001, uses interferon beta protein, which is already produced naturally by the body to fight infections. By inhaling additional amounts directly into the lungs, researchers said the risk of a COVID-19 infection developing into a severe disease was reduced by 79%.

“The results confirm our belief that interferon beta, a widely known drug that, by injection, has been approved for use in a number of other indications, has huge potential as an inhaled drug to be able to restore the lung’s immune response, enhancing protection, accelerating recovery and countering the impact of SARS-CoV-2 virus,” said Tom Wilkinson, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Southampton and trial chief investigator.

SNG001 helps the lungs’ immune system fight the virus. Those who received it were more than twice as likely to recover over those who received a placebo.

In the trials, the drug not only prevented patients from having to go on a ventilator, but even precluded any need for additional oxygen at all.

The results of the initial trial will need to be replicated on a wider scale. The results have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Synairgen CEO Richard Marsden 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,’

“It also showed that patients who received SNG001 were at least twice as likely to recover to the point where their everyday activities were not compromised through having been infected by SARS-CoV-2. In addition, SNG001 has significantly reduced breathlessness, one of the main symptoms of severe COVID-19.”

“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.”

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