Israeli COVID-19 treatment appears successful with first two patients

Opanagib is a "new chemical entity" which is administered orally and performs "anticancer, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory activities."

Colorful of tablets and capsules pill in blister packaging arranged with beautiful pattern with flare light. Pharmaceutical industry concept. Pharmacy drugstore. Antibiotic drug resistance (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Colorful of tablets and capsules pill in blister packaging arranged with beautiful pattern with flare light. Pharmaceutical industry concept. Pharmacy drugstore. Antibiotic drug resistance
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The first two patients who were treated with a new Israeli treatment for the novel COVID-19 after testing positive have shown significant improvement, with one of them even being removed from the intensive care unit (ICU) within days of treatment.
Israeli biopharmaceutical RedHill Biopharma Ltd. administered their experimental drug, Opaganib, in Israel for the first time last week. The first two patients treated, according to the company, have demonstrated significant improvement through clinical trial within mere days of treatment.
"We are very encouraged by the preliminary findings showing clinical improvement in the first COVID-19 patients treated with Opaganib, which further supports its safety and potential benefit to patients," said Medical Director at RedHill, Mark L. Levitt, MD, Ph.D.
"Our hope is that the unique mechanism of action of Opaganib, with both anti-viral and anti-inflammatory activity, will help COVID-19 patients by reducing lung inflammation, and thus preventing the disease from progressing to a stage which requires mechanical ventilation. Importantly, Opaganib is targeting a critical host factor that the coronavirus is unlikely to evade via mutation in possible future outbreaks of the pandemic."
The two patients initially suffered from "moderate to severe acute respiratory symptoms related to SARS-CoV-2 infection, required supplemental oxygenation and were hypoxic despite being treated with maximum flow of oxygen with cannulas."
After the treatment, they both needed less supplemental oxygen as well as C-reactive protein, the latter of which is an "inflammatory biomarker correlated with lung lesions which could reflect disease severity."
An additional condition of the coronavirus is lymphocytopenia, meaning an abnormally low level of lymphocytes in the blood, which both of the patients started off with. A few days after the treatment, however, both patients showed significant improvement in that regard.
One of the two patients was in the ICU and even considered for intubation, but within days of the experimental drug being administered, they were released.
The patients received the opanagib treatment while receiving the standard care for coronavirus, which includes hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as background therapy.
Opanagib is a "new chemical entity," according to RedHill, which is administered orally and performs "anticancer, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory activities."
"We are committed to expanding the availability of Opaganib under compassionate use to additional hospitals and countries and are hopeful that this treatment could potentially benefit COVID-19 patients with life-threatening manifestations," Dr. Levitt said.
The company received the green light from the Italian National Institute for Infectious Diseases last week to administer the drug in the aggressively virus-ridden country. Approximately 160 patients will be treated in "three major hospitals in northern Italy under an expanded access program."
Meanwhile, discussions are still ongoing in the US and other countries as to whether they may administer opanagib as part of "compassionate use program authorizations" and "potential emergency clinical development programs."
Israel's Pluristem also developed a treatment for coronavirus: A placenta-based cell-therapy treatment which has proven successful on numerous patients upon which it was tested so far.
Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman contributed to this report.


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