Israeli medical center develops experimental drug that treats immune system overreaction found in some severe COVID-19 cases

by Laura Mize · Feb 9th, 2021 3:09 pm
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Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center

Last Updated Feb 11th, 2021 at 12:40 am

An experimental treatment developed by Tel Aviv's Sourasky Medical Center has shown great promise for patients with moderate-to-severe COVID-19, the hospital announced Friday.

In a phase one trial, 30 patients with COVID-19 received the inhaled medication. Twenty-nine were released from the hospital in a maximum of five days, and the final patient also recovered and was released, but took a bit longer.

The medication, called EXO-CD24, fights an immune system overreaction called "cytokine storm," in which the immune system goes haywire and attacks healthy cells. This overreaction occurs in 5% to 7% of COVID-19 cases.

Professor Nadir Arber developed the treatment, which is administered once daily in just a few minutes per day. Because it is inhaled directly into the lungs, EXO-CD24 presents less risk of systemic side effects for patients. The medical center is seeking government permission to conduct more trials of the medication.

Hadassah-University Medical Center also had positive results in initial trials last year of a drug called Allocetra that focuses on calming cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients.


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