A drug developed in Tel Aviv could become a breakthrough therapy when it comes to treating Covid-19.
According to local reports, a recent Phase 1 trial of a drug called EXO-C24, seems to suggest it can help patients recover from the virus in just five days.
Researchers at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Medical Center told the Times of Israel the development was a ‘huge breakthrough’ in the treatment of the coronavirus.
While the eyes of the world have been focused on developing a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 spreading, it’s still crucial to find treatments for patients who have contracted the disease. Especially as the effects of so-called Long Covid begin to be understood.
The team at the hospital said the EXO-C24 drug was able to cure 29 out of 30 recipients within 3-5 days.
The drug uses exosomes — tiny carrier sacs that shuttle materials between cells — to deliver a protein called CD24 to the lungs.
The protein works to help calm the immune system and prevent a so-called cytokine storm.
A cytokine storm is the name given to an exacerbated reaction to Covid-19 that can result in multiple organ failure and death. The risk of a cytokine storm is particularly prevalent in older and at-risk groups.
‘This protein is located on the surface of cells and has a well known and important role in regulating the immune system,” said researcher Shiran Shapira, who is part of the lab working on the drug.
Producing a treatment for coronavirus will help massively in the fight against the disease. While vaccines are important, they can’t help anyone that has already got the disease nor can we be sure they will conquer all the mutations that have yet to emerge.
If the drug can help cure people in under a week, the implications could be massive.
‘The preparation is inhaled once a day for a few minutes, for five days,’ Prof. Nadir Arber, who runs the lab, told the Times of Israel.
Professor Arber explained: ‘The preparation is directed straight to the heart of the storm — the lungs — so unlike other formulas… which selectively restrain a certain cytokine, or operate widely but cause many serious side effects, EXO-CD24 is administered locally, works broadly and without side effects.’
The drug will now move on to further trials to test its effectiveness. However, hospital officials are already calling it a game-changer in the fight against the coronavirus.