In addition to vaccination, effective drugs to treat COVID-19 will really remove the dreaded fear of the disease and allow life to go back to normalcy.
In Israel, a reportedly effective Covid-19 treatment has been approved by the Health Ministry for Phase 2/3 trial.
Called EXO-CD24, the Covid-19 treatment has been tried with success on 30 moderate-to-severe patients during a Phase I trial with promising result. 29 of them improved within two to three days and most of them were discharged home within three to five days.
The 30th patient also recovered but took a longer time.
Professor Nadir Arber, who is the head of Integrated Cancer Prevention Center at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and the expert behind the development of EXO-CD24 told The Jerusalem Post that a double-blind placebo trial will be launched soon, involving 150 participants moderate or serious condition who will be treated with this medication.
Given that the COVID-19 infection rate in Israel is now very low, the hospital is in dialogue with India, Brazil, Portugal, Costa Rica and the Czech Republic about getting approval to run trials in those countries.
The hospital initially made the drug to treat cancer but has repurposed it for the coronavirus.
The drug aims to suppress an overreaction in the immune system. It inhibits the over-secretion of cytokines to avoid a cytokine storm where the body’s immune system goes into overdrive and attacks itself – one of the leading causes of death in Covid-19 patients.
As the drug is delivered directly to the lungs by inhalation, it, therefore, has no systemic side effects that injected or oral drugs can cause, the hospital explained.
Professor Nadir Arber said, “Even if the vaccines do what they are supposed to, and even if no new mutations are produced, then still, in one way or another, coronavirus will remain with us.”
This means that there will be a need for medications to treat Covid-19 affected patients. According to Professor Arber, this advanced preparation which must be given once daily for five days, can be produced quickly and efficiently and at a very low cost and in a short time globally.
MesenCure is another COVID-19 treatment drug that has been given the green light by the Israeli Health Ministry to proceed to Phase 2.
Developed by Israeli biotechnology company Bonus BioGroup, the drug has undergone a Phase 1 trial for treating severely ill Covid-19 patients with positive preliminary results
The trial involved 10 Covid patients aged 45 to 75 hospitalized at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa.
“All of the patients being treated with MesenCure were severe Covid patients whose illness was manifested in acute respiratory distress, in chest X-rays that showed diffused pneumonia and other blood indices that point to a cytokine storm,” said Rambam’s Dr Shadi Hamoud, the lead researcher in the trial.
According to Dr Shadi Hamoud, 90 per cent of the participants in this clinical trial also suffered from background diseases known as risk factors for serious illness, complications and death.
“Without being treated with the MesenCure drug, the prognosis of these patients was a poor chance of recovery and low chance of survival. However, thanks to treatment with MesenCure from Bonus BioGroup, the patients exhibited significant improvements in the parameters tested,” he said.
After the treatment, they spent one day in outpatient care before being discharged.
MesenCure consists of activated mesenchymal stromal (stem) cells from healthy adult donors. The activation of these MSCs is intended to boost their ability to reduce lung inflammation, promote regeneration of the diseased lung tissue, and alleviate respiratory and other symptoms in the lungs.
With COVID-19 more likely to be endemic in the world than eliminated, positive developments like vaccines and effective COVID-19 treatment give us more than a glimmer of hope that COVID-19 need not be something to be feared.