British pharmaceutical says small coronavirus trial shows possible 'major breakthrough'

A British pharmaceutical company on Monday said that positive results from a clinical trial of a new coronavirus respiratory treatment could signal a "major breakthrough" in the global fight to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Synairgen, a respiratory drug discovery and development company, said in a news release that an initial trial showed that the odds of developing severe disease reduced by 79 percent for hospitalized patients receiving its nebulizer treatment when compared to those receiving a placebo.

Patients who received the drug, SNG001, were also said to be more than twice as likely to recover and have no limitation of activities "over the course of the treatment period compared to those receiving a placebo," the company said.


The study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, also discovered that breathlessness "was markedly reduced" in patients who received the treatment versus ones who had the placebo.

"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,'" Synairgen CEO Richard Marsden said in a statement. "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."

Synairgen conducted a double-blind placebo-controlled trial that included 101 patients from several different hospitals between March 20 and May 27. The drug being studied is SNG001, Synairgen's inhaled formulation of an antiviral protein called interferon beta.  

Tom Wilkinson, the chief investigator for the trial, said in a statement that the results confirmed the belief that interferon beta "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."

Synairgen will need to present the trial's findings to regulators before receiving approval from the British government for its widespread use, according to CNBC. Shares for the company soared by about 370 percent after the company released its trial findings, Fortune reported

The release of the results comes as health officials around the world work to develop treatments for a viral infection that has infected millions throughout the world. 

Remdesivir, the treatment developed by Gilead Sciences, received emergency authorization from the U.S. in early May to treat COVID-19 patients. The company released test results earlier this month showing it helped reduce mortality by about 60 percent in extremely sick patients.