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A new coronavirus drug which successfully cured 30 cases of the disease in Israeli hospital patients has been hailed by scientists as a ‘huge breakthrough’. The EXO-CD24 substance was developed at the Ichilov Medical Centre in Tel Aviv and successfully completed its first phase of clinical trials on Friday. The treatment was given to 30 patients with coronavirus, whose conditions ranged from moderate to severe. Twenty-nine of the patients were then discharged from the hospital in the following three to five days, while one patient took slightly longer to recover. A protein known as CD24 is delivered to the lungs by exosomes in the drug, which helps to rebalance the immune system and prevent it from overreacting to the virus. Professor Nadir Arber originally designed EXO-CD24, which is breathed in as a gas and taken once every five days, in order to treat patients who had ovarian cancer. “Even if the vaccines do their job, and even if there aren’t any new mutations, one way or another, the coronavirus will be staying with us,” Prof Arber told the news site Arutz Sheva. “That’s why we developed this special medication. It’s been about half a year from the time the idea was hatched to the first human trials [being] conducted.” Roni Gamzu, the director of the Ichilov Medical Centre, said that the research during phase one of the trial was “advanced and sophisticated and may save coronavirus patients”. Speaking to the Times of Israel, he said: “The results of the phase one trials are excellent, and all give us confidence in the method Arber has been researching in his lab for many years.” No placebo was used in the first stage of the trial, and the next phase of the clinical trials will continue to examine the effects and efficacy of the treatment. The drug Allocetra, which has been developed at the Hadassah Medical Centre, has also reported promising results in the second stage of its clinical trial. Israel announced yesterday that it will ease lockdown restrictions but keep its borders closed after a drop in its number of coronavirus cases.
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