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Arber: Drug against Covid-19 can be easily produced and at a low cost

Text: Lejla Nuhanovic, Photo Fena

TEL AVIV/SARAJEVO, February 6 (FENA) - The Israeli government announced on Friday that Phase 1 testing of an innovative drug against Covid-19 has been successfully completed.

The compound named EXO-CD24 is administered by inhalation, once a day, for just a few minutes, over a period of five days.

Professor Nadir Arber is one of the hospital’s most prominent doctors and researchers and he has been entrusted with developing the drug.

EXO-CD24 is an innovative target-focused drug that was developed on the basis of many years of research in Professor Nadir Arber’s lab in the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.

Of the tested patients, 29 of 30 in a moderate to critical condition were discharged from the hospital within just 3-5 days. The 30th patient also recovered, but over a longer time period.

The drug is based on solid exosomes that are released from the cell’s membrane and which perform intercellular communication. Professor Arber and his team enrich these exosomes with the CD-24 protein. This protein is expressed on the cell surface and has a well-known and important role in regulating the immune system.

Previous studies have shown that in severe cases, Covid-19 causes a very strong and potentially life-threatening reaction of the immune system, which is known as a cytokine storm. EXO-CD 24 works by alleviating the reaction of the immune system.

Asked how long he has been working on developing this drug, Arber told FENA that he has been working on the main component of the drug for more than two decades, but for the treatment of cancer.

“However, it took me only six months, from the idea to Phase 1, to develop this formulation that specifically fights Covid-19 symptoms,” he said.

He explained that Phase 1, which involves human trials, consists of subphases a and b. In subphase a, one dose is administered, and in subphase b, multiple doses.

“When testing such drugs, three phases are common. In Phase 2, the efficacy of the drug is verified, first in a small number of patients, and then in a larger number. Phase 3 involves international testing in multiple medical centers. The drug is being tested, but also the placebo effect on patients,” he said.

When asked when he expects the drug to be used on patients, Professor Arber said that he cannot know the time of distribution at the moment because it depends on the regulator, as well as the funding he is able to raise.

Arber also said that this drug will not have an impact on the global vaccination campaign since there are two different things here.

“I hope that the vaccination campaign will be successful, but we should bear in mind that Covid-19 will be among us in one form or another,” said the professor.

When asked about the possibility of international distribution and production of the drug outside Israel, he said that this is the beauty of this drug.

“In addition to being safe and effective, this compound can be produced easily, efficiently, and at a low cost,” concluded Arber.

(FENA) L.N.