Biotech firm claims new Covid-19 treatment could reduce need for ventilators

By Emma O'Neill, PA Scotland

A biotechnology firm based in Scotland has announced the discovery of two separate treatments for Covid-19, which may reduce the need for patients to be put on ventilators.

ILC Therapeutics has patented one treatment – Interferon Alpha 14 – which can be administered through injection or inhalation.

The firm says it is a first defence response treatment which could prevent Covid-19 from creating respiratory problems which often require ventilation.

It is now seeking £4 million of funding to accelerate a study of the treatment and carry out clinical trials.

ILC Therapeutics, which is based at Biocity in North Lanarkshire, is also developing a second treatment which could increase survival rates once the disease gets into the lungs.

Chief executive Dr Alan Walker recently joined the company and is leading the development of the treatments.

He said: “It is remarkable that a small, biotech start-up of this size would have discovered not one but two novel treatment methods, and I want to help charter the course as we hopefully bring these treatments to clinical trials fast and work to save lives.

“Interferon Alpha 14 could prevent the need for patients to be put on ventilators by boosting their innate immune systems as the virus progresses.

“We have seen that few patients survive once they are put on ventilators, so the quicker we can develop this treatment in a safe and scalable way, the better.”

The company said the two treatments could constitute an early stage and late stage option for all Covid-19 patients and offer the prospect of many people with severe cases of the virus making a good recovery.

ILC Therapeutics said the funding would allow it to start safety studies and the first clinical trials in early 2021.

If these are successful, Alpha 14 could then be accelerated through the drug approval process.