SNG001 is a formulation of naturally occurring IFN-β, originally designed to prevent severe lower respiratory tract infections in the lungs caused by cold and flu. Previous research at Southampton has shown IFN- β to be lacking in the immune response of high-risk groups for COVID-19, such as the old or those with chronic disease, leading the researchers to decide the SNG001 therapeutic may work in coronavirus patients.
According to the team, SNG001 delivers extra IFN-β directly to the lungs, correcting the deficiency and counteracting viral strategies to evade the host’s immune defences by inhibiting natural IFN-β production.
Professor Wilkinson said: “COVID-19 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 health systems mounts.”
Professor Wilkinson has partnered with Synairgen, a drug company founded by University of Southampton professors, to run the trial.
The study will be measured against World Health Organization (WHO) recommended assessments of illness severity and treatment intensity measures alongside standard assessments of safety, according to the researchers.