An international team of researchers led by Dr. Eleanor Fish, Scientist Emeritus at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, UHN, and professor in the University of Toronto‘s Department of Immunology, has shown for the first time that an antiviral drug can help speed up the recovery of COVID-19 patients.
According to the new study, published Friday in Frontiers in Immunology, treatment with interferon(IFN)- a2b may significantly accelerate virus clearance and reduce levels of inflammatory proteins in COVID-19 patients.
The research team found that treatment with this drug, which has been used clinically for many years, significantly reduced the duration of detectable virus in the upper respiratory tract, on average by about seven days. It also reduced blood levels of interleukin(IL)-6 and C-reactive protein (CRP), two inflammatory proteins found in COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Fish says the research team considered IFN-a therapy for COVID-19 after they demonstrated interferon provided therapeutic benefit during the SARS outbreak of 2002 and 2003.
“Rather than developing a virus-specific antiviral for each new virus outbreak, I would argue that we should consider interferons as the ‘first responders’ in terms of treatment,” says Dr. Fish.
“Interferons have been approved for clinical use for many years, so the strategy would be to ‘repurpose’ them for severe acute virus infections.”
Boosting a natural defence mechanism
Interferons are a group of signaling proteins released by the human body in response to all viruses. As Dr. Fish explains, they are a “first line of defence.”
They target different stages of a virus’s life cycle, inhibiting them from multiplying. They also boost an immune response by activating different immune cells to clear an infection. Some viruses, however, can block this natural defense mechanism.
“But it is possible to override this block. If a virus blocks interferon production, then treating with interferon can offset this.”
The researchers conducted this exploratory study on a group of 77 patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China. These patients were admitted to Union Hospital, Tongii Medical College, between January 16 and February 20, 2020. They represented moderate cases of the disease as none of the patients required intensive care or prolonged oxygen supplementation or intubation.
Despite the study’s limitations of a small, non-randomized group of patients, the work provides several important and novel insights into COVID-19 disease, notably that treatment with IFN-a2b can accelerate viral clearance from the upper respiratory tract and also reduce circulating levels of inflammatory factors that are associated with severe COVID-19.
Dr. Fish says a randomized clinical trial is a crucial next step. According to her, a clinical trial with a larger group of infected patients who are randomized to treatment or placebo would further this research.
In the meantime, the findings from this study are the first to suggest therapeutic efficacy of IFN-a2b as an available antiviral intervention for COVID-19, which may also benefit public health measures by shortening the duration of viral clearance and therefore slowing the tide of the pandemic.
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Recovery of COVID-19 patients
- Mumbai records decline in new Covid-19 cases, 164 people test positive in 24 hours
Mumbai saw a steep decline in the Covid-19 cases with 164 new infections against 322 on the previous day. With the new infections, the case tally has reached 11,24,977, revealed Brihanmumbai Municipal ...
- Maharashtra News Live Updates: State records 830 new Covid-19 cases, 1 death in last 24 hours
Maharashtra on Monday recorded 830 new Covid-19 cases, a sharp drop from the 1,849 patients detected a day earlier, which took the overall tally to 8 ...
- Maharashtra Sees 830 Covid-19 Cases, 1 Death; 1,024 Recoveries Take Active Tally To 12,808
The death toll increased by one to reach 1,48,105, he said, adding this figure, too, was a dip from the three Covid-19-linked fatalities registered.
- President Biden tested positive for COVID-19 again. What to know about rebound cases
After testing negative early last week, President Joe Biden is isolating once again while experiencing a rebound case of COVID-19. Despite testing positive for a second time in under two weeks, the ...
- Coronavirus: What is a ‘rebound’ COVID-19 case and what causes it?
The White House announced Saturday that President Joe Biden had experienced a “rebound” COVID-19 infection following a five-day course of treatment with the antiviral drug Paxlovid. While it is rare ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Recovery of COVID-19 patients
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Brazil to treat severe monkeypox cases with antiviral drug Tecovirimat
Brazil plans to use the antiviral drug Tecovirimat to treat severe cases of monkeypox, which has already claimed one life in the country, Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said Monday. "The most ...
- Brazil to receive antiviral drug to treat monkeypox
Up to yesterday, 1,342 cases of monkeypox had been registered in the country. Last Friday the ministry confirmed the first death caused by the disease in Brazil.
- Is antiviral Paxlovid related to COVID-19 rebound?
Experts say a small share of cases ‘rebound,’ meaning the person has COVID-19 again after testing negative for the novel coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the symptoms ...
- What Is Paxlovid? All About Biden's Antiviral COVID-19 Drug Treatment
President Biden tested positive for COVID-19 and is responding favorably to Paxlovid treatment. Here's all you need to know about the antiviral ...
- Biden still positive for virus as he deals with antiviral drug ‘rebound’: Doctor
President Biden continues to test positive due to a “rebound” effect from his antiviral treatment for COVID-19 but he feels well as he starts the week, his doctor said Monday.