Medics in Israel have been given the go-ahead for a third trial of a relatively new drug after successfully testing the treatment on a number of severely ill Covid-19 patients, of which 90 per cent fully recovered within a week, according to multiple media reports.
The drug, Allocetra, aims to slow or halt an extreme overreaction of the immune system, a so-called cytokine storm. It often follows a coronavirus infection and is believed to be responsible for many Covid-related deaths as it regularly leads to organ failure.
Allocetra, first developed at the Research Center for Rheumatology and Internal Medicine (CRIM) at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Centre, was tested on 21 patients, of which 19 showed significant improvements within days and were discharged after a week, according to Israel’s Channel13 in Israel.
Professor Dror Mevorach, head of CRIM and chair of Israel’s Clinical Teaching Committee, has reportedly been given the green light to commence with a third trial, during which over 100 patients will be given Allocetra.
Mevorach explained in the Times of Israel that the drug “is useful for serious and critical Covid-19 patients because it can prevent the need to ventilate them, and that’s the major goal.”
“Because the moment you go into ventilation, the entire situation changes, complications rise, and it’s more difficult to treat.”
One of the treated patients, Yair Tayeb, said on Channel 13 that his condition improved significantly within hours after being administered the medication.
“I couldn’t breathe; I could barely speak. I went through an experience you can’t put into words,” he told the network.
“Suddenly something strange [happened] in my body. I stopped coughing, my breathing started to come back, I was feeling better. I stopped sweating. I couldn’t believe it. Two days ago I couldn’t stand on my legs… look at me now, going home,” Tayeb said.
Dozens of Covid-19 trials are currently taking place in Israel, as the country’s rapid vaccination rollout has turned its population into the largest real-world study of coronavirus patients. More than half of all Israelis, close to 4m people, have now received their first jab.
Only last week it was reported that a number of severely ill Covid-19 patients made a full recovery within five days after being treated with a relatively unknown cancer drug.
Researchers at the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv told Israeli’s KAN News network that out of 30 seriously ill Covid-patients that were treated with the drug, 29 showed a significant improvement within two days and all were released within three to five days.
The medication, called EXO-CD24, is a targeted drug that was reportedly developed as a cure for certain types of cancer.
EXO-CD24 is relatively inexpensive and must be given once a day for a period of five days. Similar to Allocetra, it fights the cytokine storm, a severe immune overreaction.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited professor Nadir Arber, who leads the EXO-CD24 trials at the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, to his office and asked him about the “miracle drug.”
During the meeting, Netanyahu reportedly said: “If this succeeds, it will be huge, simply huge. This is of global significance.”