Synairgen plc

November 15, 2005 02:00 ET

Synairgen: interferon-Beta Enters Clinic For Novel Use

SOUTHAMPTON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 15, 2005) -

IFN-Beta to be used to treat virus-induced asthma exacerbations

Synairgen plc ('Synairgen' or the 'Company'), the drug discovery company focused on the underlying causes of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is pleased to announce that the first subject has been enrolled into the Phase I clinical trial to assess the safety and tolerability of inhaled interferon-Beta ('IFN-Beta').

The rhinovirus or cold virus is the most common trigger for the worsening of asthma symptoms (otherwise known as an asthma exacerbation), particularly among severe asthmatics. Building on successful data derived from its proprietary in vitro models of the disease, Synairgen is investigating a novel application of inhaled IFN-Beta to reduce exacerbations caused by the cold virus. Currently there are no satisfactory treatments available to address this significant unmet need in asthma.

The total cost of asthma in the United States is $16bn per annum, and this includes some $4.1bn for emergency department visits and in-patient care. It has been shown that c.10% of the asthmatic population who suffer from severe asthma take up over 50% of the total cost of the disease. Genentech's Xolair® is the first drug aimed primarily at the allergic portion of the severe population.

If the planned trials are successful, it is intended that Synairgen's inhaled IFN-Beta will provide a first line of defence for many of the asthmatic population for whom there is currently no effective treatment for cold-induced episodes.

Professor Stephen Holgate, one of the academic founders and non-executive directors of Synairgen, said, "Asthmatics live on a knife edge fearing an exacerbation. Our models of human disease have shown that asthmatic airways produce little or no IFN-Beta which acts as a defence against the virus's ability to replicate. This has led us to develop an inhaled IFN-Beta programme and we hope to demonstrate the utility of this approach in a proof of concept study of therapeutic efficacy which will follow these safety studies".

"There is a large market for a treatment capable of preventing rhinovirus-induced asthma exacerbations," added Richard Marsden, Managing Director, Synairgen. "There are two million emergency department visits due to asthma per year in the US alone; at least 50% of these visits will have been triggered by the common cold. In addition, with the rise of "alternate site" (ie non hospital) treatment, many more asthma sufferers seek help from their general practitioner or specialist physician in the Doctor's Office setting.

"We are optimistic that an inhaled IFN-Beta therapy could fill a significant gap in the chest physician's armoury."

The trial is being conducted at the University of Southampton by Professor Ratko Djukanovic (one of Synairgen's founders) and will comprise 27 subjects. The outcome of this study will determine the extent of further safety studies needed.

Injectable IFN-Beta is used to treat multiple sclerosis and various forms are currently marketed by Biogen IDEC Inc, Schering AG., Pfizer Inc., and Serono SA.

Contact Information

  • Synairgen
    Richard Marsden
    Managing Director
    02380 512 800