An immunotherapy treatment called Allocetra, developed by Hadassah and the Enlivex biotechnology company, has won full marks in its first clinical trials. On Wednesday, Sept. 30, five Hadassah hospital coronavirus patients, who were treated while in serious or critical condition, were all discharged from the hospital within days, free of virus infection and its symptoms. A significant breakthrough in combating the pandemic, it has yet to pass through the full gamut of clinical trials.
The treatment is based on the findings of Prof. Dror Mevorach, director of the internal medicine and coronavirus departments of Hadassah, who had successfully tested it previously on 10 sepsis patients.
Cells taken from healthy individuals and re-engineered were injected in patients suffering extreme symptoms of coronavirus. Such symptoms have been diagnosed as caused by a patient’s overactive immune response to the virus. It occurs when the immune system’s cytokines go into a “cytokine storm” thus causing the high fevers, severe respiratory distress, lung damage and other life-threatening symptoms common in coronavirus infection.
In the new trial, the injected healthy cells proved effective in breaking this immune overdrive cycle and curbing the resulting inflammation.
The Hadassah research program, undertaken under the supervision of the Health Ministry and Helsinki Committee rules, may now go into its next phase of clinical trials on a broader range of sample cases and continue to monitor the virus-free patients for possible harmful side effects.