Scottish biotech company announces dramatic breakthrough in battle against COVID-19

Feb 7, 2023

• Drug also has potential to treat SARS, HIV, hepatitis and respiratory infection (RSV)
• Earlier research shows drug is 15-20 times more potent than other interferons
• Far fewer side effects than current treatments

ILC Therapeutics has completed in vivo tests of its pioneering synthetic hybrid interferon Alfacyte™. The highly statistically significant results demonstrate the drug’s effectiveness both in preventing infection and in the treatment of COVID-19. 

Dr Alan Walker, CEO of ILC Therapeutics, which is based near Glasgow, said: “The dramatic success of these tests enables us to now move forward with our planning for safety trials.

“The global fight against COVID isn’t over – 55,000 deaths were recorded globally in January. Alfacyte™ could play a crucial role in maintaining immunity in global populations as new variants of the disease emerge and providing an effective treatment in regions where the vaccine isn’t available or where there is vaccine hesitancy.” 

The firm has been increasing staff numbers and is now in the process of recruiting a Head of Pre-Clinical Development to manage the safety programme and further product development for Alfacyte™.

Alfacyte™ has the potential to prevent and treat other serious viral infections, including HIV, hepatitis, RSV and other major pathogens.

Earlier research carried out by ILC confirmed that Alfacyte™ is 15 to 20 times more potent at inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 (the virus which causes COVID-19) in cell culture than other interferons.

Interferons “interfere” with viral reproduction and are one of the body’s key defences against all viral pathogens.

In some cases (SARS, MERS, Covid-19), viruses can evade the interferon response by delaying the innate immune response.

A therapeutic drug such as Alfacyte™ can offer enhanced interference in COVID-19 replication and activate the body’s own Natural Killer (NK) cells to fight viral infection. It can also reduce “off target” effects and reduce production of cytokine storms, which often cause the most severe cases of Covid-19. 

ILC Therapeutics’ hybrid interferons are designed by identifying selected favourable attributes of naturally occurring interferon subtypes and combining them together in a new class of hybrid synthetic interferons which provide a significantly improved therapeutic ratio compared with natural interferons.  

Dr Walker continued: “Chemical antiviral treatments currently available for a range of diseases are limited because of the likelihood of severe side-effects.

“Using synthetic interferons could be a game changer in the prevention and treatment of  devastating diseases such as HIV and respiratory infections. We are at the forefront of this pioneering technology, which has global implications for disease prevention and treatment.”

This media release generated the following coverage:

Daily Business Group


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About ILC Therapeutics

ILC Therapeutics Ltd is an early stage biotechnology company pioneering a new class of interferon medicines called Hybrid Interferons. The Company was founded by Prof. W. H. Stimson FRSE, who was the founder of the Department of Immunology at The University of Strathclyde. Bill has been a long-term consultant to five multinational companies including Akzo Nobel, Rhone-Poulenc and Johnson & Johnson. Bill has published 216 scientific papers and 46 patents and was involved in the use of the first human monoclonal antibodies for cancer therapy.