Israeli biotechnology company Bonus BioGroup recently announced positive preliminary results of its Phase I clinical trial for treating severely ill Covid-19 patients, perhaps bringing closer a cure for the coronavirus.

The trial involved treating 10 Covid patients aged 45 to 75 hospitalized at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa with MesenCure, Bonus BioGroup’s cell therapy drug candidate.

“All of the patients being treated with MesenCure were severe Covid patients whose illness was manifested in acute respiratory distress, in chest X-rays that showed diffused pneumonia and other blood indices that point to a cytokine storm,” explained Rambam’s Dr. Shadi Hamoud, the lead researcher in the trial.

“In addition, 90 percent of the participants in this clinical trial also suffered from background diseases known as risk factors for serious illness, complications and death,” he said.

“Without being treated with the MesenCure drug, the prognosis of these patients was a poor chance of recovery and low chance of survival. However, thanks to treatment with MesenCure from Bonus BioGroup, the patients exhibited significant improvements in the parameters tested,” he adds.

After the treatment, they spent one day in outpatient care before being discharged.

Following the trial’s success, the Israeli Health Ministry has approved transition to Phase II, which will include an additional 50 coronavirus patients.

MesenCure consists of activated mesenchymal stromal (stem) cells from healthy adult donors. The activation of these MSCs is intended to boost their ability to reduce lung inflammation, promote regeneration of the diseased lung tissue, and alleviate respiratory and other symptoms in the lungs.

The drug, intended to treat life-threatening respiratory distress, could also possibly be used to treat other diseases such as lower respiratory tract infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.

Meanwhile, the EXO-CD24 experimental treatment for Covid-19, developed by Dr. Nadir Abir at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, also won approval from the Health Ministry to begin a Phase II/III trial. Several other countries may run trials as well.