Tel Aviv: For many patients with severe coronavirus infections, it is not the virus that kills them, but the series of events that cause it. One of the most fatal consequences is when patients develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) with cytokine storms.
Cytokines are protein groups that coordinate the immune response. In severe cases of COVID-19 and even pneumonia, a “cytokine storm” can occur, where a positive feedback loop creates an immune response that is so strong that it damages critical body functions.
For years, it has been suggested that targeted interventions on the cytokine storm itself may help with cases of severe pnemonia. Now, Israeli scientists have applied it to the treatment of COVID-19 itself, with the result that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself called it a ‘miracle cure’.
The EXO-CD24 inhaler treatment, developed by Prof Nadir Arber at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov Hospital), was tested on 30 patients with a moderate to severe condition, all of whom recovered – in just 3-5 days.
It is administered by inhalation once a day, in a procedure that lasts only five minutes, for five days, Arber told the Jewish News Syndicate.
‘It is based on exosomes that release the body from the cell membrane and use it for intercellular communication. We enrich the exosomes with the 24CD protein, which is known to play an important role in regulating the immune system, “said Arber’s director of the laboratory, Dr. Shiran Shapira, who has been studying the CD24 protein for decades. said.
The medicine will now move on to additional trial phases, although the hospital considers it a possible game changer.
The treatment attracted so much attention that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis discussed it during his recent visit with Netanyahu. Netanyahu kept a bottle of it in his pocket and revealed it after his meeting with Mitsotakis, calling it a ‘miracle drug’.
“If you are infected with corona and are seriously ill and have a lung problem, take it in, inhale it, and you will feel good,” he said.
Prof. Ronni Gamzu, Israel’s former coronavirus tsar, praised the treatment as “innovative and sophisticated”, saying the results of the phase I trial “give us all an expression of confidence in the method.”
Mitsotakis expressed Greece’s willingness to take part in clinical trials.
“Assuming we can overcome the regulatory barriers, Greece would like to participate in clinical trials,” he said, adding: “We will all be very relieved if we can find a remedy that can cure the disease itself.”