MS drug may help COVID-19 patients recover faster, study finds

An inhaled version of a drug commonly used to treat multiple sclerosis may help hospitalized COVID-19 patients recover faster, initial study data suggests, according to NBC News

Interferon is often used in an intravenous form to treat multiple sclerosis. It is naturally released by the body when infected with a virus, and it works by interfering with viral replication. Injectable interferon is approved in the U.S., but an inhaled form is not. 

Researchers have suggested that COVID-19 patients tend to have less interferon in their blood and lungs than normal, and increasing the levels of it may help patients fight off the virus quicker, NBC reported. 

Study data published Nov. 12 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine suggests that COVID-19 tends to inhibit the body's natural interferon response and an inhaled form of interferon may help patients recover faster. 

The study was conducted by British drugmaker Synairgen and involved 98 patients, half of whom received inhaled interferon every day for up to two weeks. They were twice as likely to improve within 16 days, NBC reported. 

Researchers said the study was too small to make definitive conclusions about the benefits of inhaled interferon in COVID-19 patients, but they will now test it in COVID-19 patients who aren't sick enough to be hospitalized. 

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