- The NIH last year expanded a clinical trial testing a drug called interferon beta-1a with remdesivir in COVID-19 patients versus remdesivir.
- Interferon beta-1a treats multiple sclerosis, has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to inhibit the replication of viruses such as SARS.
- Researchers found that there was no difference in recovery time when hospitalized covid patients were given the drug compared to just remdesivir
- Patients who require high-flow oxygen or mechanical ventilation have poor respiratory health after being given interferon beta-1a
A new federal study suggests that the multiple sclerosis drug combined with the antiviral remdesivir did not improve the condition of COVID-19 patients.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Monday released the results of a clinical trial that looked at a drug called interferon beta-1a as a treatment for the virus.
Researchers found that it was no more effective when combined with remdesivir than remdesivir used alone in hospitalized Covid patients.
In addition, in the group of patients who required higher levels of oxygen, interferon beta-1a was linked to worse outcomes.
The NIH last year expanded a clinical trial testing a drug called interferon beta-1a (pictured) — which treats multiple sclerosis and has anti-inflammatory properties — versus remdesivir alone. with remdesivir in 19 patients
Researchers found that there was no difference in recovery time when hospitalized Covid patients were given the drug compared to just remdesivir. Pictured: Members of a Covid Critical Care Unit treat a COVID-19 patient inside their isolation room at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Florida, September 2021
Interferon beta-1a belongs to a class of drugs called immunomodulators, which reduce inflammation and prevent nerve damage.
It is currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat various forms of multiple sclerosis.
In August 2020, the drug was added as part of the Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial (ACTT) conducted by the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Adaptive trials test treatments against each other, and whichever performs better is the control drug in the next trial and is tested against a new drug.
Interferon beta-1a was tested with remdesivir, the only drug fully approved by the FDA to treat critically ill coronavirus patients.
Remdesivir was used as a control in ACTT trials after it was found to reduce recovery time in Covid patients during the first round in April 2020.
Studies have shown that interferon beta-1a inhibits the replication of viruses such as SARS and MERS, which are cousins of the newer viruses.
It was also tested on its own as a treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, with promising results.
One Studyconducted in Southampton, England, found that hospitalized patients receiving an inhaled form of the drug were 79 percent less likely to develop serious illness.
one more Study In Hong Kong, one group of patients was given beta interferon and two antiviral drugs, and the other group a placebo.
Those in the control group who received the combination recovered in about seven days, compared with those in the control group, who recovered in about 12 days.
for the new study published in Lancet Respiratory MedicineAbout 1,000 adults in the US, Mexico, Japan, Singapore and South Korea were enrolled.
Half of the participants received a combination of interferon beta-1a and remdesivir, while the other half received placebo plus remdesivir.
The researchers tested the time to recovery and found that the average time to recovery was five days, whether a patient was given interferon beta plus remdesivir or remdesivir alone.
Additionally, the odds of improvement on Day 15 were similar for participants in either group.
Not only this, the trial was revised in September 2020 to prevent enrollment of critically ill patients who require high levels of oxygen or mechanical ventilation.
This came after the Independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) found that patients given interferon beta-1a and remdesivir had worsening respiratory health compared to patients not given interferon beta-1a.
The team believes the drug exacerbated inflammation in these patients with ‘more severe respiratory disease’.