Israeli breakthrough COVID treatment gets approval for advanced trial
A vial of the Pfizer vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is seen as medical staff are vaccinated at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN/FILE PHOTO)
The treatment is being tested in Greece in what is known as a dosing study to determine how much of the treatment is needed to most effectively treat COVID-19.
A coronavirus treatment touted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “miracle drug” earlier this year has been approved by the Health Ministry for a Phase II/III trial, according to the hospital in which it was developed.Prof. Nadir Arber of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center told The Jerusalem Post that his EXO-CD24 COVID-19 treatment will soon launch a double-blind placebo trial in which around 150 patients in moderate or serious condition will be treated with the medication.Because the level of COVID-19 in Israel is extremely low, Sourasky will partner with other medical centers throughout the country, and will likely extend the trial to other countries, Arber said.Georgia, for example, which has been reporting between 500 and 1,000 new daily cases according to the Worldometer website, has agreed to carry out a trial, once it receives authorization from the European Medicines Agency.
In addition, Arber – and a spokesperson for Sourasky who confirmed the report – said that the hospital is in dialogue with India, Brazil, Portugal, Costa Rica and the Czech Republic about getting approval to run trials in those countries, too.“I was in Georgia last week, and they are very eager to do it,” Arber told the Post.Moreover, the treatment is being tested in Greece in what is known as a dosing study to determine how much is needed to most effectively treat COVID-19.EXO-CD24 was first talked about back in February, when Sourasky shared that 29 out of 30 (96%) of the COVID-19 patients treated with it recovered within days and were released from the hospital. Later, another five patients were given EXO-CD24 and had the same results.Six patients received a higher dose than the rest. Around the same time, Netanyahu introduced Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Arber during his visit to Israel to learn about the treatment.During a press conference with the Greek leader, Netanyahu held up a vial of Arber’s treatment and called it a “miracle drug.”EXO-CD24 COVID-19 is based on CD24-enriched exosomes and is meant to fight the cytokine storm, which overwhelms the immune system. Exosomes are responsible for cell-to-cell communication. In this case, they deliver the CD24 protein to the lungs, which helps calm down the immune system. A cytokine storm is when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive and attacks itself – one of the leading causes of death in COVID-19 patients. Arber said that a cytokine storm develops among 5% to 7% of COVID-19 patients within five to seven days.“It should only take a few months” to complete these trials, Arber told the Post. “We have a very motivated staff and a very good project that is very promising, safe and has potential to make a real difference.”Although Israel has largely exited the coronavirus crisis – and on June 1 will lift all remaining Health Ministry restrictions except for wearing masks indoors and those that apply to Ben-Gurion Airport – there have been between 400,000 and 800,000 new daily cases worldwide in the last week.