CD24: Could it be the Cure for COVID?
Distributing doses is a breathtaking challenge and many people still want others to get vaccinated first before they get the shot. When COVID-19 vaccines started to roll out, some wanted to still wait a year before getting it to determine the long-term health issues that cropped up in people who got the jab despite how the virus ravaged communities throughout the world. Some may not trust the vaccine’s safety, but the experts assure that vaccines are safe and effective.
In February 2021, Tel Aviv Hospital recorded cures of 29 out of 30 COVID patients in days who were administered a treatment developed by Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center as part of the Phase 1 trial.
According to the hospital, they recovered from the disease and were released within three to five days. The 30th patient also recovered but it took longer. These patients were given EXO-CD24 COVID-19 treatment. It is based on CD24-enriched exosomes and is meant to fight cytokine storm that is associated with COVID-19 deaths.
Cytokine storm is when the immune system overdrive and attacks healthy cells. The exosomes are responsible for cell to cell communication and in this instance, they deliver CD24 protein to the lungs, which helps tranquilize the immune system.
Prof. Nadir Arber has been researching exosomes for twenty years and he said that took him six months from the time the idea of using this treatment in the fight against COVID-19 was raised until it was first tested in humans. This treatment is inhaled once a day for one or two minutes within five days. This directly targets the lungs. Professor Arber explains that “the site of the storm, as opposed to other treatments that could be given systematically and hence cause severe side effects.”
Majority of the patients who received EXO-CD24 manifest significant improvement in just two days. The hospital appealed to the Health Ministry to move forward with more clinical trials. Once this is approved, the treatment can be tested on additional patients.
Arber explained that “ this is an innovative treatment that can be produced quickly and efficiently at a low cost” and “even if the vaccines do what they are supposed to, and even if no new mutations are produced, then still, in one way or another, coronavirus will remain with us”, he added. Prof. Ronni Gamzu, Sourasky Head hailed the treatment as “ innovative and sophisticated” and by this, he promised to personally assist Arber in obtaining the ap[provals needed from the Health Ministry for more research. This is not the first Israeli drug to show promise in the treatment of COVID-19.
Prof. Nadir Arber told The Jerusalem Post that his EXO-CD24 COVID-19 treatment will soon launch a double-blind placebo trial in which around 150 patients in moderate or serious condition will be treated with the medication.
“Since the level of COVID-19 in Israel is extremely low, Sourasky will partner with other medical centers throughout the country, and will likely extend the trial to other countries”, Arber said.
As part of the Phase II trial of the treatment, some 93% of 90 coronavirus serious patients treated with a new drug developed by Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center were discharged in five days. The trial confirmed the results of Phase I conducted in Israel and saw moderate to serious condition recovery in a few days. Another trial was conducted in Athens. The principal investigator was coronavirus commissioner, Prof. Sotiris Tsiodras.
According to Prof. Arber, “ the main goal of this study was to verify that the drug is safe, to this day we have not registered any significant side effect in any patient from both groups.”
The CD24 drug, which is naturally present in our body, is based on a molecule that the professor has been studying for 25 years and was developed by Arber and his team including Dr. Shiran Shapira. ”It is very important to remember that 19 out of 20 COVID-19 patients do not need any therapy and after a window of 5 to 12 days, some 5% of the patients started to deteriorate,” Arber said.
CD24 is a small protein that is anchored to the membranes of the cells that serves multiple functions that include the regulation of mechanisms responsible for the cytokine storm. Arber emphasized that EXO-CD24 does not affect the immune system as a whole, but only targets the specific mechanism, helping find again its correct balance. He said that “ this is precision medicine and we are very happy that we have found a tool to tackle the physiology of the disease.” Arber distinguished another breakthrough element of this treatment is its delivery and they are balancing the part responsible for the cytokine storms using the endogenous mechanism of the body, meaning tools offered by the body itself.
Arber and his team are employing exosomes-very small vesicles that are derived from the membrane of the cells that are responsible for the exchange of information between them as he explained. “To avoid any side effects, they are managing to deliver them exactly where they are needed,” he added. Their team is prepared and ready to start the last phase of the study.
Marie Rosales is an expert in the field of security. She is currently a full-time Content Writer and AVCreativity Studio's Virtual Assistant. She enjoys cooking and reading. She spends most of her spare time with her children.