According to BBC News' latest report, UK scientists have developed a new drug that could treat COVID-19 patients which will be trialed at the University Hospital Southampton.
UK biotech Synairgen uses a protein called Interferon Beta to develop the new COVID-19 drug. Interferon Beta is produced by the human body when a viral infection is detected. Scientists expect that the study will also help other medical experts since there are currently few effective treatments that rely on patients' immune systems.
Meanwhile, another potential drug will be tested in Japan this month. According to a report in the Nikkei Asian Review, Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, is looking to approve the flu drug called Avigan as a coronavirus treatment within this month.
Although the flu drug is supposedly set to be approved for testing in July or in later months, Abe has directed the health ministry to accelerate its review of Avigan.
New coronavirus drugs will be tested in Japan and UK: Interferon Beta and Avigan might cure COVID-19, experts say
In the BBC News report, Richard Marsden, the chief executive of Southampton-based Synairgen, explained that the new drug, Interferon Beta, is part of the body's first line of defense against viral viruses and other diseases: Interferon Beta sends signals to the body, warning it about the viral attack.
Richard also explained that COVID-19 seems to suppress or lessen its production as a part of its strategy to avoid the immune systems of the body.
The new drug is developed by delivering the Interferon Beta directly to the airways when where the viral virus is located. The scientists expect that a direct dose of the new drug will trigger a stronger anti-viral response, even in patients who have a weak immune system.
Interferon Beta is usually used by medical experts to treat multiple sclerosis. The current results of the study have shown that the new protein can stimulate the response of the immune system of patients who have asthma and other chronic lung complications.
However, the report clarified that Interferon Beta can only be confirmed effective enough to cure COVID-19 once it goes through rigorous clinical trials.
Meanwhile, according to Nikkei Asian Review, Japan's health ministry is prioritizing trials of Avigan and other applications related to the virus since there is still no COVID-19 treatment approved by Japan.
A subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings developed Avigan which can block the virus from reproducing within the human body.
Avigan's clinical trials have not yet reached the needed number of patients, but it has been administered increasingly in research contexts.
There are about 700,000 COVID-19 patients included in the inventories of Avigan, and Abe is planning to increase the stockpiles to 2 million patients by next March.