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Five serious COVID patients recover after experimental Israeli treatment

Enlivex Therapeutics says it administered its Allocetra therapy to severe and critical cases in Jerusalem hospital; all recovered completely, tested negative for coronavirus

Healthcare workers wearing protective clothes as they work at the coronavirus ward of Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on September 23, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: Healthcare workers wearing protective clothes as they work at the coronavirus ward of Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on September 23, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israeli immunotherapy company Enlivex Therapeutics said Thursday that five COVID-19 patients in severe to critical condition recovered from the disease within days after receiving its experimental treatment.

The patients were administered the company’s Allocetra treatment in a clinical trial at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.

The three subjects in severe condition were released from the hospital 5.5 days after receiving the treatment, and the two patients in critical condition were released after 8.5 days. They all tested negative for the coronavirus when they were released, the company said.

“There were no reported severe adverse events relating to the administration of AllocetraTM in the patients, and the therapy was well-tolerated,” it said in a statement.

Therapeutics are usually given to patients in moderate condition, and Enlivex hopes its therapy could become a treatment for more serious cases, the company said.

Allocetra treats the over-response of the immune system and inflammatory response that is sometimes seen in COVID-19 patients, called a cytokine storm. The phenomenon can cause severe immune system attacks on the body’s own organs, causing organ failure and sometimes death.

Cytokine storms are difficult to treat because they are complex responses involving multiple biological systems reacting, and interacting, at the same time. Cytokines are proteins used in cell signaling that summon immune cells during an immune response.

Allocetra uses the body’s own regulation mechanisms to tamp down the storm, without hampering the immune system, the company said. The treatment infuses billions of early apoptotic cells, or dying cells, into the bloodstream. Macrophages and dendritic cells, the body’s first responders, feed on these apoptotic cells, releasing fewer cytokine alert signals and calming the storm.

The company previously demonstrated the drug’s safety in treating a small group of sepsis patients, and now plans to launch Phase II clinical trials for coronavirus patients in severe or critical condition.

Enlivex, based in Ness Ziona, is a clinical stage immunotherapy drug company, focused on balancing the immune system. It was founded in 2005. Allocetra is the firm’s leading treatment and the furthest along in trials.

Enlivex trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker ENLV. Its share price jumped around 50 percent on Thursday.

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