Written bySiddhant Pandey
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across the world, the search for a treatment or cure remains on.
Trials of one experimental drug now suggest that a possible new treatment could significantly reduce the number of patients needing intensive care.
The treatment is based on a protein called Interferon Beta, which the body produces naturally in response to viral infections.
The drug, called SNG001, has been produced by the Southampton-based biotech firm Synairgen.
Synairgen is a spin-out company from the University of Southampton.
University Hospital Southampton was the lead center for the double-blind trial, which involved 101 participants admitted at nine United Kingdom hospitals.
Half of the participants were administered the treatment, while the other half was administered the placebo.
On Monday, Synairgen announced that the patients who received SNG001 had a 79% lower risk of developing severe disease compared to placebo.
Those who received SNG001 were more than twice as likely to recover from COVID-19 as those on placebo. The drug significantly reduced breathlessness in patients.
Further, three participants in the placebo group died while no fatalities were reported among those receiving SNG001.
Tom Wilkinson, a professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Southampton and the trial's chief investigator, told The Guardian, "The initial results are very positive and provide a strong platform to take this drug forward in clinical development, working closely with an international regulatory framework to try and get this drug into patient care as soon as is possible."
Since the results were shared, experts have cautioned that the trial is too small.
Dr. Charlotte Summers—an intensive care specialist at Addenbrooke's Hospital, University of Cambridge—highlighted that the trial results also did not reveal the number of people who required mechanical ventilation.
However, Dr. Summers restrained from jumping to conclusions until the full research dataset is published and expressed faith in the NIHR.
Globally, the coronavirus has afflicted over 15 million (1.5 crore) and led to the deaths of 6.23 lakh people, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
At 12,38,635 cases, India has reported the world's third-highest number of infections after the United States (3.9 million) and Brazil (2.2 million).
India's total cases include 4,26,167 active infections while the death toll in the outbreak is 29,861.
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