The respiratory drug discovery and development company said on Wednesday the first patient was dosed with its inhaled formulation of SNG001, its treatment based on interferon beta, a naturally occurring protein that orchestrates the body's antiviral responses.
The second phase of trials showed that patients who received SNG001 for 14 days had more chances of improvement compared to the placebo.
The last stage will involve 610 patients who require supplemental oxygen in around 20 countries.
UK promotes arthritis drugs
The news comes a week after the UK Department of Health and Social Care added new treatments for COVID-19 patients admitted to intensive care units.
Results from the government-funded REMAP-CAP clinical trial showed that arthritis drugs tocilizumab and sarilumab reduced the relative risk of death by 24%, when administered to patients within 24 hours of entering intensive care.
Most of the data came from when the drugs were administered in addition to a corticosteroid, such as dexamethasone which is already provided as standard of care to the NHS.
Patients receiving these drugs, typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, left intensive care between 7 to 10 days earlier on average, so it is hoped that the new rollout will relieve pressure in hospitals.
The department said it was working closely with Swiss firm Roche, which manufactures tocilizumab, to ensure treatments continue to be available to UK patients.
What’s available for patients?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says optimal supportive care includes oxygen for those severely ill and at risk for severe disease, while the critically ill should receive more advanced respiratory support such as ventilation.
According to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the current therapies for COVID-19 tend to be either antivirals, which prevent the virus from multiplying, and immune modulators, which focus on the body’s natural responses.
Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid that can help reduce the length of time on a ventilator and save lives of patients with severe and critical illness.
However, reports from the WHO’s Solidarity Trial indicated that drugs that made headlines last year, such as antiviral remdesivir and malaria therapy hydroxychloroquine, appear to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the in-hospital course of COVID-19.
HIV treatment lopinavir/ritonavir, which is recommended for use in several countries including Italy and France, is also deemed as ineffective following the trial.
The international agency also does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, which do not work on viruses but only on bacterial infections.
There are several ongoing trials to test therapies, such as the aforementioned REMAP-CAP and Solidarity.
The UK is also running the world’s largest study, called Recovery, involving 12,000 patients. It is currently investigating low-dose dexamethasone, aspirin, plasma from donors who have recovered from COVID-19, Regeneron’s antibody cocktail and two anti-inflammatories, colchicine and tocilizumab.
Upcoming treatment news
The AIM-listed firm said last week it had concluded a study in Brazil, where data was “positive and suggests that the treatment was well-tolerated”.
It added that the scientific approaches used “could potentially be effective against SARs, MERS, and all variants of coronaviruses”.