Opaganib is a “new chemical entity” administered orally to patients with Covid-19 and it performs “anticancer, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory activities.”
The experimental drug from the Israeli biopharmaceutical RedHill Biopharma Ltd. was administered to patients in Israel for the first this month.
Local media The Jerusalem Post reported that the first two patients who were treated with the drug have shown significant improvement within days.
The first two patients treated, according to the company were also being studied through clinical trial of the drug.
This success according to experts could give some hope to scientists racing to find a treatment for the virus.
According to producers of the drug, 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, both patients 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,” officials said.
Medical Director at RedHill, Mark L. Levitt said “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”.
He adds that “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.”
Dr. Levitt said “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.”
RedHill has been asked by the Italian National Institute for Infectious Diseases to administer the drug in the country.
Some 160 patients will be treated in “three major hospitals in northern Italy under an expanded access program,” officials said.
Meanwhile Israel’s Pluristem company has also developed another treatment for coronavirus.
The company used a placenta-based cell-therapy treatment which has proven successful on numerous patients upon which it was tested so far.