UK-based respiratory drug discovery and development company, Synairgen has presented the positive data from its pre-clinical study investigating the effectiveness of aerosolised interferon beta (IFN-beta) against viral pneumonia.
The pre-clinical study compared the use of aerosolised IFN-beta with a placebo as either a pre-infection protective measure or as a post-infection treatment measure.
It is found that before infection, inhaled IFN-beta should be used as a protective drug to enhance lung antiviral defence in people who have been, or might be, exposed to a life-threatening virus, while after the occurrence of infection, IFN-beta should be used to reduce the severity of illness and accelerate the patient's recovery and discharge from hospital.
The study also reported that administration both before and after infection considerably minimised viral load compared to the placebo.
Earlier in vitro data also suggested that aerosolised IFN-beta may be used as a post-exposure prophylactic treatment for evolving viral threats and the treatment of patients infected with a severe viral lung illness.
The in vitro study demonstrated that the addition of low levels of IFN-beta has restored antiviral responses in human models, which suggests that local delivery of IFN-beta to the lungs will limit the spread of virus to lungs in subjects with respiratory disease.
The placebo-controlled SG004 Phase I study in controlled asthmatics showed that IFN-beta was well tolerated, with no adverse effect on standard measures of lung function and inflammation.
The placebo-controlled SG005 Phase II study of inhaled interferon beta for the treatment of exacerbations of asthma randomised 140 to 160 subjects, and the results are expected in the first quarter of 2012.
Synairgen non-executive director and founder Stephen Holgate said that the findings from the study support the use of inhaled interferon beta as a treatment for pnemonia in a clinical setting.
Synairgen CEO Richard Marsden said the company is encouraged by the data which helps to further develop IFN-beta as a novel therapeutic approach to the threats posed by respiratory viruses such as influenza, new emerging viruses and aerosolised bioterrorism threats.
''This development complements our current programme targeting viral infections in asthma sufferers, which is drawing near to the end of its Phase II proof of concept study," Marsden said.