Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Pfizer say the pill could be used to treat both rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease
A pill that targets the blunted immune system, causing it to be less active, could help reduce the number of hospital admissions for severe illnesses.
The pill, called COVID-19, is being developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer.
It could be available for consumers in 10 to 15 years, the US drug companies say.
The proposal is published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine and reveals how the development has progressed.
The study shows how the discovery – which was developed to help people with rheumatoid arthritis – is providing a wealth of useful information about how the immune system functions.
It follows the work of the man who first discovered it, Professor Jonathan Scarisbrick, who was previously working at the Universities of Edinburgh and Southampton.
Since his discovery, Professor Scarisbrick has been working at King’s College London – and has also attracted investments from major pharmaceutical companies.
Our thoughts are with all those affected by #Crohn’s disease https://t.co/Nl7EGP4FwW pic.twitter.com/Y8lRQr7U5c — Pfizer (@Pfizer) August 25, 2016
The efficacy of his research was recently confirmed when the Interfax drug, which he discovered, was approved by the UK pharmaceuticals regulator.
His work has taken various forms, and this year he unveiled a new drug that could help people with Crohn’s disease.
So, the latest development was another step forward, he told us, revealing the details of the Bristol-Myers/Pfizer study to show how the drug could reduce severe illness in areas of the world where such conditions are very prevalent.
Unsurprisingly, there are concerns that there is still a long way to go before this could become a reality.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Jonathan Scarisbrick’s work is leading to drug development in the new research phase
Before COVID-19 can be trialled in patients, safety issues must be addressed first.
Professor Scarisbrick said the exact mechanism behind the way the immune system reacts had yet to be fully understood, adding that he hopes that understanding his “massive contribution” would continue to inspire the development of new drugs.