Researchers from the United States have shown that treatment with the immunomodulator interferon beta-1a does not improve the condition of patients with coronavirus infection. Moreover, its use leads to an increased number of complications in patients who require artificial respiration (ventilator). An article on the effectiveness of interferon treatment was published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
Interferon beta-1a, one of the most common drugs used to treat multiple sclerosis, has the same amino acid sequence as the interferon beta protein, a member of the interferon type I group - produced by the human immune system to fight pathogens. In those infected with COVID-19, interferon production is suppressed.
The ACTT-3 clinical trial enrolled 969 people from 63 hospitals in the United States, Mexico, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. Study participants were divided into two groups: some were given a combination of interferon beta-1a and the antiviral drug remdesevir, and others received only remdesevir. The latter was used as an active control after it was found to be more useful than placebo for reducing recovery time after COVID-19.
Researchers led by specialists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that the combination of interferon and remdeservir was of no clinical benefit. The time after which a patient began to recover for both the experimental and control groups was five days. The likelihood of improvement by the fifteenth day of treatment was similar in both groups.
Moreover, the researchers had to stop enrolling participants with severe COVID-19 that required high-flow oxygen therapy and exclude participants with ventilator-assisted ventilation. It turned out that in these people taking interferon increased the risk of complications and severe outcomes of coronavirus infection. According to scientists, this is due to the fact that interferon enhances the inflammatory response.