Researchers from Stanford Medicine are testing the drug interferon-lambda to see if t’s effective in treating mild cases of COVID-19.
The drug is a naturally occurring protein that’s been used to treat thousands of hepatitis patients in clinical trials. The researchers hope to be able to treat the virus in its earliest stages before it spirals out of control and can spread to others.
The 120 study participants in the current clinical trial have been recently diagnosed with the coronavirus and researchers want to see if taking the drug can keep them out of the hospital and reduce viral shedding which in turn, reduces the risk of transmission to others, according to Fox News.
Dr. Prasanna Jagannathan, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at the medical school and one of the leaders of the study said that interferon-lambda has an “excellent” safety profile. His co-leader, Dr. Upinder Singh, spoke of the importance of early treatment of mild cases.
“Even though these individuals may not need hospitalization, infection with COVID-19 results in respiratory symptoms and lost productivity,” said Singh, according to Fox News. “Plus — and this is important -- patients with mild disease contribute to community disease transmission. Limiting viral shedding from this group would reduce transmission to family members and others, which is crucial to controlling epidemic disease transmission,”
Dr. Richard Malley, a physician specializing in infectious disease, and Dr. Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist, told the New York Times, that we need clinical studies to find drugs that can prevent people from becoming infected with the virus in the first place, and find treatments that would reduce the severity of symptoms at the onset of sickness.
“Useful lessons can be drawn from how other acute viral infections are best tackled — chief among them: Act quickly, before infection or as soon as possible after it,” they wrote.
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