British scientists have begun testing a new drug that they hope will help high-risk patients fight off COVID-19.
The experimental treatment, being trialled at University Hospital Southampton in the UK, uses a protein called interferon beta, which our bodies produce when we get a viral infection.
Interferon beta is commonly used to treat multiple sclerosis, but early research suggests it could be used to stimulate the immune response of the lungs for patients with asthma and other chronic lung conditions.
Richard Marsden, chief executive of Synairgen, the company behind the potential new treatment, said interferon beta is part of the body’s first line of defense against viruses, warning it to expect a viral attack.
COVID-19 appears to suppress production of interferon beta as it tries to evade the immune system.
Seventy-five people have enrolled in the clinical trials so far, which are taking place at hospitals across the UK.