Synairgen shows promising results for inhaled COVID-19 treatment but additional data needed to understand role in treatment, says GlobalData

Following the news that UK biotech Synairgen announced reductions in COVID-19 disease progression and increased rates of recovery relative to placebo;

Michael Breen, PhD, Director of Infectious Diseases and Ophthalmology at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“Synairgen’s inhaled interferon (IFN)-β is now one of a select few drugs having shown improvements in COVID-19, and, importantly, in a placebo-controlled trial. While differences in trial design make it difficult to compare these results directly to those for other efficacious agents – such as Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir and the potent anti-inflammatory dexamethasone – these data need to be supported by larger studies with more detailed analysis to solidify this agent’s role in COVID-19 management. In short, Synairgen’s candidate does appear to reduce progression to more advanced disease, which the healthcare community would wholeheartedly embrace, should the results be prove convincing.

“As we learn more about COVID-19, we’re gaining appreciation for nuance and stratification in different disease states. For example, at present, dexamethasone appears effective only in severe patients, while favipiravir appears to only show benefit in mild and moderate patients, which is perhaps unsurprising as these agents target different aspects of the disease. Additional data will give clarity on which patients Synairgen’s drug should be given to, and when.

“There is another consideration about clinical data that is a particularly important and sometimes divisive issue, and has gained increased attention due to COVID-19. We have seen data, sometimes of low quality, thrust into the limelight because of a need to rapidly quell this outbreak which continues to proliferate unchecked in certain geographies. Trials need to be run sufficiently to demonstrate that an agent is effective, and perhaps more importantly, to be able to demonstrate that there is no benefit. As we have seen, there are instances where agents appear effective, but under further scrutiny, the results do not hold up. However, if the media and politicians promote these results, it becomes confusing for the public and creates issues in dealing with a public health emergency.

“This is not to say Synairgen’s results will not hold up; rather, that we not should rush to consider this a panacea for COVID-19, and that we must carefully access these results and use them to refine current treatment algorithms. It’s equally important for Synairgen to have results that are both positive and equally convincing in order to see integration of their agent into COVID-19 management.”

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