While most of the world is focused on getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible as new Covid-19 variants wreak havoc, such as the Delta strain has in Sydney, there is a renewed focus on developing effective treatments overseas.
And now there is burgeoning hope that “game changing” medication is on the way.
Because many health experts are coming to realise that while vaccination is the most important way to protect people from the coronavirus, it’s not the only way we can fight back.
There’s also still a huge number of unvaccinated people around the world for various reasons including lack of supply or young age, and this can create a playing field for mutations.
That’s why in Israel, companies are focused on developing medications that could prove invaluable in the fight against the virus.
EXO-CD24 is an experimental “precision” medication for inhalation, developed by Professor Nadir Arber at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.
Its aim is to halt the “cytokine storm” that affects the lungs of approximately 5-7 per cent of covid-affected patients. This occurs when the immune system starts attacking healthy cells with extra cytokine cells.
“Doctors reported good responses, and this is very encouraging and supports our hope that this drug could be a game-changer,” Arber told the Times of Israel.
Allocetra by Enlivex Therapeutics – Shai Novik is the executive chairman of Enlivex Therapeutics, an immunotherapy company who is developing another treatment for Covid-19 in Israel. He says that there has been renewed interest in treatments for the coronavirus once people realised that, while hugely important, vaccines weren’t going to spell the end for the virus.
Enlivex chief scientist and medical officer Dr Dror Mevorach undertook research that paved the way for trials of Allocetra, which is given once through an IV infusion to severely ill patients and works by reprogramming malfunctioning immune cells.
“To date, we’ve treated 10 critical and 11 severe Covid-19 patients.
“The results were encouraging. We did not see any issue with safety and tolerability. Nineteen of the 21 patients were released from the hospital in 5.6 days, on average, after receiving our drug product — less time than you’d expect at this level of illness.”
The Israeli Ministry of Health has reviewed the company’s phase II trial data, and authorised a phase IIb clinic trial involving 152 patients in Israel and Europe. Half will get Allocetra, and half a placebo.