Interferon-lambda Clinical Trial Underway

Valerie McCarthy is examined by Hector Bonilla, MD, for a new trial.

Photo by Steve Fisch

Stanford Medicine researchers are examining whether the drug interferon-lambda can act as an effective therapy for patients with mild cases of COVID-19. According to a Stanford Medicine news release, interferon-lambda may help relieve symptoms of coronavirus, lead to a faster recovery and reduce the likelihood that infected individuals transmit the disease.

Investigators say the goal of the study, which will monitor 120 COVID-19 patients over 28 days, is to determine if the drug prevents viral shedding. As explained by co-lead researcher Upinder Singh, MD, professor of infectious diseases and geographic medicine, patients with a mild form of the disease are often transmitters and “limiting viral shedding from this group would reduce transmission to family members and others,” a critical step in controlling its spread. Singh also notes that, although Food and Drug Administration approved Remdesivir has been proven safe and effective, it’s restricted for use in hospitalized patients only, leaving outpatients with no treatment options.

Interferon-lambda is a manufactured form of a naturally occurring protein and, as reported in the news article, the medication orchestrates the body’s natural defenses against infection by activating cells in the immune system. Prior laboratory testing suggests that lambda-interferon may be helpful in controlling viruses that cause respiratory illnesses, including influenza and SARS, that can be fatal. It has also been investigated as a treatment for hepatitis.

Learn more about the study here