Researchers at Stanford University have begun a new study to test a medication called Peginterferon Lambda-1a, also called Lambda, as a potential COVID-19 treatment.
Lambda is a medication that is part of a drug class called interferons and has been used to treat viral hepatitis. Interferon medications have antiviral activity. Specifically, they work by stopping viral replication without promoting inflammation. This is ideal because COVID-19 damage is often caused by the body's own inflammatory effects. Plus, unlike other medications in the same drug class, Lambda has fewer side effects.
In their trial, researchers are recruiting participants who have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and have mild symptoms. Participants will either receive one dose of Lambda or one dose of a placebo. In addition, participants will have their temperature and oxygen levels checked each day at home. They will be given a blood test to see how their immune system has reacted to the virus.
Patients will also receive serial testing to detect how long they are shedding the virus. Shedding the virus through mucus or air droplets can give information about how long someone is contagious. The primary outcome researchers are interested in is the duration of viral shedding in respiratory secretions in 28 days of follow-up.
"We hope the results of the trial will give important new information about how to treat coronavirus infections for the many people who get the disease," notes the page advertising the research study on Stanford Medicine's website. Further research will determine if Lambda improves patient outcomes.