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Novel Interferon Inhalation Formulation Administered Through Nebulizer Could Reduce COVID-19 Severity

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 01 Jul 2020
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A coronavirus inhaler therapeutic could hold the key to helping patients fight off symptoms of COVID-19 as soon as they start

In a trial planned for later this summer, BetterLife Pharma (Vancouver, Canada), a clinical stage pharmaceutical development company, will begin a 150-patient Phase II study to test such a nebulizer (a device to turn the treatment into a fine mist), treating patients with pre-existing conditions early after COVID-19 infection. The company hopes that its inhalation device, an experimental delivery system already used during the Wuhan crisis, along with its patent pending interferon alpha2b drug AP-003 will help patients by bolstering their own immune systems, to prevent them progressing to more severe stages of the disease and help avoid potential damage to their lungs, and then eventually heart, kidneys and the brain - the leading cause of death amongst COVID-19 patients. AP-003 will contain BetterLife’s patent-pending and purer composition of IFNa2b, which the human body produces during a viral infection.

A number of recent studies have investigated the use of interferon alpha 2b (IFNa2b) on patients with cases of COVID-19 and found that the drug significantly accelerated clearance of the virus from the airways of patients. Interferon beta is already used as an injection to boost the immune response of people with multiple sclerosis. However, if the drug is inhaled via a handheld nebulizer, then IFNa2b can be delivered directly to the lungs where it can help fight COVID-19 at the source. In BetterLife’s planned trial, which is being designed with FDA guidance, patients will be treated within five days of being assessed and tested and before they develop dyspnea (when patients develop breathing problems and are rushed to hospital). The premise being put forward by the company is that an intervention with AP-003 within seven days of exposure will inhibit the viral proliferation and allow the immune system to respond and prevent organ damage, thereby preserving life. The company hopes that an inhaler delivering AP-003 directly to a patient’s lungs could make a difference by not only treating those who are seriously ill in hospital, but by eventually also being used as a coronavirus prophylaxis/prevention, allowing sufferers and those at high risk the ability to treat themselves at home before even becoming ill.

"We are encouraged by the results of recent studies on the use of interferon for COVID-19 which further support the approach being taken by BetterLife," said BetterLife CEO Ahmad Doroudian.

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