Hull patient becomes first in world to take part in Covid-19 trial

Communications TeamNews

A patient at Hull Royal Infirmary has become the first in the world to take part in a global aimed at preventing the most severe forms of Covid 19.

Iuliana-Alexandra Constantin, 34, became the first patient in the world to take part in the Phase 3 trial of inhaled Interferon Beta after she was taken to Hull Royal Infirmary this week with the virus.

Admitted to Ward 38, one of the hospital’s specialist units caring for patients with Covid 19, Iuliana-Alexandra was given a nebulizer to breathe in the medication as a mist after agreeing to take part in the trial, trial led by researchers at the University of Southampton.

The drug is designed to boost the lungs’ antiviral defences, enabling patients to recover faster and fight off a more severe form of the disease. Patients will be shown how to administer the once-a-day therapy themselves at home, allowing them continue the treatment after they are discharged from hospital.

Consultant Respiratory Physician Dr Michael Crooks, principal investigator for the trial in Hull, said: “Hull is at the forefront of studying new treatments for Covid 19 and we are currently taking part in a number of trials of potential new therapies.

“The dedication and commitment of our researcher teams mean we are able to offer patients access to potential new treatments against this terrible disease.

“We are hopeful this trial will confirm the effectiveness of inhaled Interferon Beta in helping people recover from the virus and preventing them developing severe disease.”

Interferon Beta is a protein which occurs naturally in the body to fight off viruses and is known to be reduced in people with severe Covid 19. Treatment is delivered through a nebulizer to people with Covid 19 who develop breathlessness and require oxygen therapy, stimulating the antiviral response in their lungs. The aim is to halt the progression of the disease, enabling patients to recover faster and leave hospital to continue their recovery at home.

Hull took part in the Phase 2 trial, involving around 100 people, during the first wave of the pandemic and is playing a major role in Phase 3 by recruiting the first patient to the next phase of the trial.

Respiratory research nurse Suzanna Thackeray-Nocera administered the treatment to Iuliana-Alexandra, watched by research nurses Kayleigh Brindle and Rachel Flockton.

Staff on the ward, led by Ward Sister Rosie Featherstone, will continue to monitor Iuliana-Alexandra closely until she is well enough to go home.

Dr Crooks, who is also a senior clinical lecturer at Hull York Medical School, said: “This trial will evaluate whether inhaled Interferon Beta helps patients with Covid-19 who need oxygen recover faster and prevent development of more severe forms of the disease.

“Any treatment we can provide to help patients recover faster has massive benefits for them and our hospitals.”