McMaster researchers discover game-changer COVID treatment


Published February 10, 2023 at 11:50 am

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McMaster University researchers found a safe treatment for all COVID-19 variants, and it could be used against other respiratory viruses.

Researchers at Hamilton’s McMaster University discovered a safe, single-injection treatment for all COVID-19 variants. Now, they believe it could be used to treat other respiratory viruses.

McMaster professors Gilmar Reis and Edward Mills and their team found that pegylated interferon lambda can be injected under a person’s skin to successfully treat COVID-19 early in the disease, saving the patient from drug treatment regimens that are often times not adhered to.

“This discovery allows us to enter a new era where you can have pan-virus interventions against a range of diseases,” Mills, a professor of the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact (HEI), told McMaster’s Brighter World publication.

“This could save tens of thousands of lives.”

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Among the mostly vaccinated trial participants, lambda significantly reduced the need for hospitalization or emergency room visits compared to the placebo.

Lambda works against COVID-19 viruses invading the airways by activating the immune system’s antiviral defences — which begs the question: Can the treatment work against other viruses?

“Lambda is not virus-specific as it works on all the different COVID-19 variants, and it probably also has a role to play in combatting other respiratory viruses such as influenza,” said Reis, an associate professor of the HEI. “We are beginning a study now of lambda for influenza.”

Reis added that the ultimate aim would be to use lambda in combination with the drug Paxlovid to treat COVID.

The McMaster researchers involved with the trial were Gilmar Reis, Edward Mills, Paula McKay, Sheila Sprague, Lehana Thabane, and Gordon Guyatt.

The findings were published in The New England Journal of Medicine

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