We have discovered and developed a new anti-viral drug (SNG001) that could potentially help reduce the number of hospital admissions for asthma, bronchitis and emphysema as well as potentially reduce deaths in these patients triggered by respiratory viruses such as the common cold or influenza. Our company Synairgen, founded by Professors at the University of Southampton to focus on respiratory drug discovery and development, signed a deal with AstraZeneca in June 2014 allowing AstraZeneca to further develop and take to market SNG001 (now known as AZD9412), which boosts the lung’s anti-viral defences.
It is widely recognised that cold and flu viruses cause a deterioration in the symptoms of patients with asthma and other lung diseases. Anti-viral proteins naturally produced in response to catching a cold help us try and fight it. However, there is evidence that patients with lung diseases such as asthma do not make enough of this anti-viral protein called interferon beta. Therefore, what we are trying to demonstrate here is that, by taking SNG001 (which is interferon beta) via an inhaler, that it will help improve patients’ symptoms when they get a cold or flu infection.
SNG001 is essentially a ‘man-made copy’ of interferon beta, an anti-viral drug which is naturally made by the cells lining the lungs, to ward off infection. In studies, it has been shown that the lung lining cells of people with asthma only produce around one third of the amount of interferon beta as those of healthy people. To put SNG001’s potential in context, it is estimated that in the UK alone up to a fifth of the asthmatic population could benefit from this treatment. We look forward to seeing the results from the AstraZeneca trial in early 2017.