Assessing the efficacy of non-canonical IFNA-subtypes as inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 replication

University of Edinburgh

Active award

Principal Investigator: Dr Kathryn Ball

Year Award Started: 2020

There is an urgent need for anti-SARS-CoV2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) treatments that can be used to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Re-purposing existing drugs, or improving on known anti-viral agents, is therefore a priority as it provides a rapid route to the clinic. A naturally occuring anti-viral protein, IFNA2 (an interferon) was used to treat patients with COVID-19 in China. Our research shows that another form of interferon (IFNA14) is significantly better than IFNA2 at preventing Coronavirus infections. Furthermore, previous studies show that IFNA14 is less damaging to the immune system than IFNA2. Thus, IFNA14 is likely to provide a better therapuetic option than the existing treatment. The aim of this study is to find the best form of interferon treatment for COVID-19 patients. To do this we will screen all 13 IFNA-family members in laboratory tests which measure inhibition of viral growth and compare this to effects on immune- and lung-cell function. Based on our preliminary data we expect to identify a form of interferon that is better than the currently available IFNA2 treatment. The data output from the application will be used to initiate animal studies at the earliest possible juncture and, if successful, advance to human trials.

Research area: Infections, inflammation or immunology