Our Story

Understanding how and why some people’s lungs are unable to defend themselves has been at the heart of the Synairgen story for nearly 50 years.

Who are Synairgen?

50 years of curiosity and innovation

In the 1970s, Synairgen founder, British immunophysician Professor Sir Stephen Holgate, began investigating how respiratory viruses can cause serious illness, with the aim of translating these insights into effective clinical treatments. Joined by fellow University of Southampton professors Donna Davies and Ratko Djukanovic in the 1990s, together the three formed Synairgen in 2003 with the sole aim of bringing these advances to patients.

Pioneers of using ex vivo models, which use cells collected from patients with respiratory disease, Synairgen was able to make major advances in the understanding of the defence mechanisms of the human lung. This ground-breaking research showed that interferon beta (IFN-β) was an essential component in an effectively functioning respiratory defence system, and any deficiencies in this naturally occurring protein were likely to lead to serious illness and even death.

Synairgen has developed and is testing an inhaled formulation of IFN-β designed to directly target the lungs, the primary site of many viral lung infections, including COVID-19.

Interferon Beta

Discover how IFN-β has been shown in the lab to protect cells from infection from a broad range of respiratory viruses that cause lower respiratory illness including highly pathogenic coronavirus strains, including MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19.