A peer-reviewed study found that an aerosolized version of interferon, which is used to treat patients with multiple sclerosis, could help treat patients with the coronavirus.
The body releases interferon when a virus or pathogen enters the body. The chemical interferes with a virus' ability to replicate, and researchers believe that people who have a deficiency of interferon are more likely to get infected with COVID-19.
While a previous study found that interferon injections did not help patients with COVID-19, scientists said that inhaling the drug could be the key to getting it directly into your lungs.
"If I give you an injection of interferon, and you get a minuscule amount on the lungs, it's like I didn't give you anything. You wouldn't expect there to be a benefit," Dr. Hugh Cassiere, director of critical care services for Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital at North Shore University Hospital, told NBC News.
The peer-reviewed study, which was commissioned by U.K.-based pharmaceutical company Synairgen and published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, found that patients who were treated with the aerosolized interferon were twice as likely to shows signs of recovery within two weeks compared to patients who were given a placebo.
The researchers said they are hopeful the treatment will work but have to conduct more extensive tests before they can market the drug commercially.
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