COVID-19 Industry Medicine

Operation Cytokine Storm

Exceptional times call for exceptional men. In Israel, men of science boldly step forward to face the coronavirus, armed with miracle cures. Pandemic, like a good war, is always good for business.

Welcome to the newest Israeli Scientists joke. I’ve got three new jokes even, about three Israeli professors who seek to cure COVID-19 using repurposed yet patented medicine: Nadir Arber of Tel Aviv University, and Dror Mevorach and Yaakov Nahmias, both of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. They all run clinical studies, and all of those are delivering up to a 100% survival rate for COVID-19 patients.

The Israeli media, its politics and military celebrate their virile Hebrew geniuses, the virus announced to surrender, or so we hear.

The previous Israeli Scientists jokes about COVID-19 on my site were about “stem cells” from placenta, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (btw, why not combining those?). As further jokers I should mention here in passing the Kibbutz Hatzerim magic diagnostics box which “is able to help diagnose and treat cancer, cardiac dysfunction, and infectious diseases, including Covid-19, flu and SARS“, in 15-20 minutes. Engineering professor Gabby Sarusi from the Ben-Gurion University of Negev invented something smaller and faster: a COVID-19 breathalyser:

We asked ourselves, since this virus is just like a nano-particle or a quantum dot with a diameter between 100nm to 140nm in terms of its size and electrical properties, can we detect it using methods from the worlds of physics, photonics and electrical engineering?

Yeah, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The dean of the faculty of engineering at the Technion, Yair Eil-Eli, decided to set the concept of face masks on fire:

The self-cleaning masks will look like regular face coverings, apart from an input for a USB cable. This is to power the heating element inside the mask, which gets it hot enough to kill germs.

These, and all other Israeli scientists I describe, are male, and I wonder what is it these Hebrew geniuses are strutting to be applauded where others would get pelted with rotten tomatoes. Is it just chutzpah? Is it refined Israeli humour which the sad diaspora Jews like myself don’t get?

For more Israeli Scientists jokes, we now move to repurposed drugs. As a reader of press releases and media reports, you are supposed to believe, with your whole heart, that drug repurposing during a pandemic happens when a scientist uses his (yes, his, in such cases) gigantic brain power (maybe with some fancy high-tech AI tools) to calculate all the molecular pathways and to deduce, by the power of sheer logic and superhuman intelligence and not unlike Sherlock Holmes, which drug will work against the coronavirus. In reality, things are slightly different. In most cases, these men of science use their gigantic egos to postulate that their most favourite molecule, the one they had been working all their bloated careers with on something entirely unrelated, surely must also work against the coronavirus.

This is how the malaria medicine chloroquine was originally repurposed by Didier Raoult, and this is how these three Israeli gentlemen made their genius discoveries.

Original images: YouTube, Twitter, TASMC

“Building up fat”

Bioengineering professor Yaakov Nahmias of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem predicted that the cholesterol drug fenofibrate can also cure COVID-19, seemingly by using the most sophisticated computational biotech methods in Israel. The visionary Israeli genius, who just happens to work in liver research (hence his past focus on cholesterol-lowering medicine) deployed his proprietary Tissue Dynamics organ-on-a-chip technology against the coronavirus, which confirmed to him that yes, those infected cells have issues with lipid metabolism and that yes, cholesterol drugs are the solution to the pandemic.

It is a bit weird though that Nahmias didn’t go for his old, award-winning miracle drug naringenin, which 10 years ago he said worked even better than fenofibrate, not just in lowering cholesterol, but also against viral infections (Goldwasser et al 2010). An evil tongue would say that might be because naringenin is a natural substance from grapefruits, but fenofibrate is a patented drug with a huge market, its monopoly aggressively defended by Abbot Laboratories.

I am also a bit disappointed that Nahmias’ Belgian collaborator Catherine Verfaillie is not involved in this humanity-saving research. At the same time, his coauthor on the COVID-19 crushing fenofibrate preprint Ehrlich et al 2020 is Benjamin tenOever from New York, a debunker of bad science in the Olivier Voinnet affair, which leaves me somewhat confused.

Nahmias and his game-changer COVID-19 drug are all over Israeli media, for example here:

“Professor tenOever said the collaboration “demonstrates the power of adopting a multi-disciplinary approach to study SARS-CoV-2 and that our findings could truly make a significant difference in reducing the global burden of COVID-19.” As the research progresses, “this course of treatment could potentially downgrade COVID-19’s severity into nothing worse than a common cold,” Professor Nahmias offered.”

Nahmias previously explained the dietary logic behind his COVID-19 cure:

Virus infection causes the lung cells to start building up fat, and fenofibrate allows the cells to burn it.

That cell culture preprint has not reached a peer-reviewed journal until today, maybe the reviewers demand grapefruit studies. Yet right away, Nahmias did a retrospective analysis of merely thirteen Israeli patients who happened to be treated for COVID-19 while on fenofibrate, to establish that that the drug obviously conveys no less than a 100% survival rate. Unfortunately, the analysis is not available to every Tom, Dick and Harry, but the summary was presented at a conference, which is good enough. Nahmias was quoted in a press release from December 2020:

Patients taking fibrates that work directly to breakdown fats recovered fast from the disease, while those taking medications that build fats like thiazolidinediones, showed greater lung damage and mortality

If you use enough clever words with authority, the virus will get confused and give you all its money. This is probably why Nahmias is presently running a phase 3 clinical trial with fenofibrate on 50 patients. The trial is a matter of national pride, and is funded by the pharma giant Abbot, are you surprised? Estimated study primary completion date: April 1, 2021. Expect a success rate way over 100%.

Nahmias never mentions grapefruits anymore. No fruits for this carnivorous businessman, who now sells lab-grown chicken meat:

“Feed on these apoptotic cells”!

We shall remain at the Hebrew University for now. Dror Mevorach is, according to his Twitter bio, a “Seeker of Truth”, professor at the Hadassah university hospital, but his business is the company he founded and serves as Chief Medical Officer for, Enlivex. This company announced already in February 2020 to have a working COVID-19 cure, which now achieved a miraculous 100% survival rate. They repurposed their sepsis therapy which despite earlier human tests, was nowhere near approval, so the pandemic arrived just handy.

Israeli media is currently thanking Prof Mevorach on their knees:

14 of 16 severe COVID patients in trial recover with experimental Israeli drug.

2 cases remain in critical condition 28 days after receiving Enlivex Therapeutics’ Allocetra therapy in Phase II trials, marking 0% mortality rate in both studies of treatment […] At the start of the trial, nine of the patients were in severe condition and seven were critical.”

That was in fact Phase 2 clinical trial, the previous phase 1 trial had 5 patients:

The company did a preliminary trial of five COVID-19 patients last fall. All of those patients, who were in severe to critical condition when they received the drug, were released from the hospital with an average stay of under 10 days after getting Allocetra.

The two trials together, therefore, had a mortality rate of zero percent in 21 severe to critical cases, although the fate of the two patients still in the ICU remains uncertain.

The results from these 5 patients were so amazing (I am prepared to believe they were declared clinically dead before they recovered) that a phase 2 trial was immediately approved in October 2020:

Oren Hershkovitz, Ph.D., CEO of Enlivex, and Prof. Dror Mevorach, Chief Medical Officer of Enlivex, stated in a joint comment: “We would like to thank the Israeli Ministry of Health for its unprecedented expedited review and for authorizing a Phase II clinical trial of AllocetraTM in COVID-19 patients in severe and critical condition.”

The miracle drug named Allocetra is…. apoptotic cells:

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.”

It’s all about the Cytokine Storm! Back in early months of the pandemic, the “cytokine storm” was what everyone was talking about, as if there was a new Gulf War on. The Chloroquine religion was established with the belief that malaria drug was the weapon to fight that cytokine storm. Meanwhile, the storm idea became outdated, as a JAMA editorial Sinha et al 2020 concluded last summer:

Although the term cytokine storm conjures up dramatic imagery and has captured the attention of the mainstream and scientific media, the current data do not support its use. Until new data establish otherwise, the linkage of cytokine storm to COVID-19 may be nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.

Meh, who cares. Allocetra has 100% recovery rate!

Now you probably want to see the published results, like a paper or preprint? Here is a paper by Dr Mevorach on Allocetra, but not fro COVID-19 but for sepsis, and not in humans but in mice, Karbian et al 2020. This should suffice, and no, there isn’t anything else published, certainly not on COVID-19, except press releases and media reports. But the mouse paper explains what exactly Allocetra cells are, namely dead leucocytes:

An enriched mononuclear cell fraction was collected via leukapheresis from healthy, eligible donors who had signed informed consent forms approved by the Ethical Committee (Hadassah-Hebrew University # HMO-0066-18). For the preparation of Allocetra-OTS, cryopreserved cells were thawed, washed, and resuspended with apoptosis induction media containing methylprednisolone.

Regular readers might be reminded of the Celixir business by Ajan Reginad and Nobelist Sir Martin Evans in Britain, that blood-based technology is highly reminiscent in both silliness and financial opportunism.

What is the confidence interval compared to the control group receiving standard care, I hear you ask? Get out, you ignorant science denialist! These trials never needed any control arms, randomisation or blinding. Yes, the scientists promise to do phase 1a safety tests via double-blinded randomized controlled clinical trials eventually, some day, maybe. Probably some time after they receive the final drug approval from Israeli medicinal product authority. The drug works 100% without control arm!

How do we know it works better than standard care then? Because the website of the company says so. Because the drug previously worked 100% on 6 sepsis patients (yes, out of 10 recruited, you have a problem with that?). No other drug in the world has a full 100% recovery rate for COVID-19, not even hydroxychloroquine:

Source: Enlivex

Pandemic, like a good war, is always good for business. Enlivex stocks soared already in December 2020, gaining 69% in value:

Though the program’s lead indication is sepsis, a positive final outcome in the phase II COVID-19 study might lead to conversations with regulators exploring emergency use authorizations, Executive Chairman Shai Novik told BioWorld.

And here another discovery which will sure get approval from Israeli regulators, because it all is so hilarious.

“Brilliant, innovative, open minded and most of all, humble”

In Tel Aviv, Professor Nadir Arber has saved lives also, with a miracle drug which identity is secret. The media, not just in Israel, but worldwide, is celebrating:

Professor Nadir Arber from the Integrated Cancer Prevention Center at the hospital tested a medication he has been developing on patients in moderate and serious condition suffering from the virus with a 95% positive result. Arber says the medicine, named EXO-CD24, is inexpensive and effective and must be given once daily for five days. Of the 30 patients that were given the drug, 29 showed a marked improvement within two days and were released from the hospital three to five days later. […] After such positive results, the hospital appealed to the Health Ministry’s Helsinki Committee, to request to extend the trial to more patients.

No COVID-19 clinical trial in Israel half-way matching this description is registered on clinicaltrials.gov, whatever went on there, fact is: if it really was a real clinical trial, it would have been registered. Obviously, no papers or preprints were published in this regard.

So what is this EXO-CD24?

Well, it is 100% sure that this is about CD24, the rather ubiquitous cell adhesion protein, expressed on the cell membrane, which Arber is obsessed with and wants to deploy to cure everything. It’s not like he is prevented by a scholarly publishing conspiracy from sharing his data, look, right now Arber runs an MDPI special issue where he editorially handles his own papers on CD24. But not those about the secret COVID-19 cure.

Arber’s patents (btw, he also patented curcumin as cancer cure!) suggest that EXO-CD24 might be the CD24 protein or its mRNA, which Arber patented as therapy for wound healing. Or maybe it’s an anti-CD24 antibody. Previously, Arber meant to cure cancer with that antibody. Whatever this CD24 thingy it is, it’s probably wrapped in what Arber decided to call exosomes, to make it fancier, hence EXO-CD24. Exosomes, or extracellular lipid vesicles, are a hot topic for some years now, no idea why. In fact, here is a clue from a conference abstract from Arber’s lab, Shapira et al 2019:

Next, we generated, small natural vesicles, exosomes, that directly targeted cancer through specific small antibody fragments against CD24 that is expressed in most cancer cells and rarely on normal cells.

Guess the mystery of EXO-CD24 is solved now, right? From that same abstract we learn that Arber has a juicy financial involvement with the company ZionPharm, which pays both him and his CD24 research.

On the other hand, Arber’s team is confused themselves whether they use CD24 antibody or CD24 protein:

The drug is based on exosomes released from the cell membrane and used for intercellular communication. We enrich the exosomes with 24CD protein. This protein is expressed on the surface of the cell and has a known and important role in regulating the immune system,” explained Dr. Shiran Shapira, head of Arber’s molecular genetics lab who has been involved in research on CD24 protein for over two decades.

The preparation is given by inhalation, once a day, for only a few minutes, over a period of five days. “The uniqueness of the preparation lies in a double mechanism that acts to inhibit the action of the pathway leading to the immune storm and the multiple secretions of cytokines. The preparation is directed directly to the center of the cytokine storm in the lungs […]” said Arber.”

There you go, the cytokine storm again.

As I was writing this, another media report surfaced with more details about Arber’s genius cure:

A cytokine storm is when the immune system essentially goes into overdrive and begins attacking healthy cells. Exosomes are responsible for cell-to-cell communication. In this case, they deliver the CD24 protein to the lungs, which helps calm down the immune system.”

The part of what CD24 (or exosomes for that matter) have to do with coronavirus infection or with the”cytokine storm” is irrelevant. Important is that, according to Arber, his patented CD24 drugs can cure cancer and other things, which by extension means also COVID-19.

Now, you probably think, so what, I don’t need to know what exactly the magic drug is, please doctor, take my money! I mean, it worked in France, one of the world’s richest men paid €5 million for access to a secret COVID-19 drug, to be taken rectally. Eminence beats evidence any day! To reassure you, here Dr Arber, as it seems in his own words describing himself, in this bio submitted to a 2019 conference in Tel Aviv:

Dr. Arber, is an outstanding researcher and physician, expert in internal medicine, gastroenterology, health promotion and cancer prevention. He has changed the landscape of cancer prevention and management in Israel […] Dr. Arber is an outstanding researcher. […] Dr. Arber has always been not only a leading physician but also a good scientist. […] Dr. Arber is highly intelligent, with excellent manners, boundless energy, integrity and outstanding knowledge in many fields of cell and molecular cancer biology. […] He is brilliant, innovative, open minded and most of all, humble and well-liked by his patients and by his peers. He is a motivated self-driven individual and an admirable team player. His research has the potential to change the practice of cancer therapy, by prevention and outside of the box novel therapies.

In short, Dr Arber is a man of everyone’s dreams. No wonder of all the Israeli Scientists clowns the Israeli and foreign media jumped onto his miracle drug the most. They really thing that character is the zenith of the Israeli male genius, worth naming streets, hospitals and your children after. In fact, he is just a Nadir of pathetic bullshittery.

By the way, a first-hand source at the Tel Aviv University told me that Arber, who was appointed to the faculty with MD and MSc degrees only, once allegedly proposed to do his PhD dissertation at the Sackler School of Medicine under a very unusual supervisor: himself (Arber told me: “Obviously not. How on earth and definitely in TAU one can be is own supervisor?“). In any case, Dr Arber still has no PhD, and what with him being the emerging saviour of the Jewish nation I think the Tel Aviv University should have let him supervise himself. I bet they are very sorry now.

PS: Arber eventually replied and agreed his EXO–CD24 is his patented CD24 protein wrapped in exosomes. I forgot to ask for price quote!

Update 12.02.2021

Arber’s magic COVID-19 cure is now being touted by PM Bibi Netanyahu and official governmental accounts.

Meanwhile, the clinical trial was published on 10 February: NCT04747574. It is an open-label single arm phase 1 trial with 30 virus-positive patients age 18-85 (ventilated patients were excluded), the therapy is:

The treatment is a biologic therapeutic agent based on exosomes carrying CD24. The rationale for this treatment is that exosomes overexpressing CD24, isolated and purified from T-REx™-293 cells engineered to express CD24 at high levels, can suppress the cytokine storm

Before pandemic covidiocy, such things were called not exosomes and not nanotechnology, but cell culture supernatant.


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12 comments on “Operation Cytokine Storm

  1. “Netanyahu ran to invite Prof. Nadir Arber to his office to congratulate him on developing the drug for Corona. “This little thing can change the fate of humanity. It’s great. I wish.”

    Like

  2. This was a funny. Read about the EXO–CD24 “miracle cure” in my local media and thought that sounded too good to be true. Thanks for the run-down.
    https://www.bt.dk/udland/er-israel-paa-vej-med-et-mirakelmiddel-mod-alvorlig-covid-19

    Like

  3. “The largest hospital in Greece will take part in the trials of an Israeli treatment for COVID-19, following the meeting between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday.
    During the press conference with Mitsotakis, Netanyahu held up a vial that he called a “miracle drug,” adding: “If you’re infected by corona and are seriously ill and have a lung problem, take this, inhale it, and you come out feeling good.”
    Netanyahu said that earlier in the day he met with Prof. Nadir Arber, who developed the new EXO-CD24 treatment, and one of the first things Mitsotakis asked was whether Greece could take part in the clinical trials.
    “Assuming that we can overcome the regulatory hurdles, Greece would be happy to participate in clinical trials,” he added. “We would all be very relieved if we could find a drug that could cure the disease itself.””
    https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/top-greek-delegation-lands-in-israel-ahead-of-expected-tourism-agreement-658243

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  4. The willingness for receiving vaccination is already rapidly decreasing in Israel. And true, why should people run to the vaccination stations, especially the younger ones? If they are diagnosed with COVID19-illness, no problem: a sip of Netanyahu’s “miracle drug” will make them “feel good”.

    Perfect job, Crime Minister!

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  6. The clinical trial on CD24-exosomes appears to be registered: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04747574
    Apparently, these engineered HEK293-derived exosomes expressing CD24 were used in a 30-patient, open label, SAFETY study… with no placebo group.
    However, even if they are as-yet unpublished, the results must be true, as wikipedia already states there were “significant positive outcomes”.

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  8. Solomon Goliath

    I’ve never read a more ignorant “article”. I trust this is simply meant as humorous, because it clearly demonstrates that Schneider hasn’t a clue. Confusing CD24 protein with Abs. Confusing the role of CD24 suppression in cancer vs. employing CD24 activity in COVID. Complete lack of knowledge about exosomes and their biologic properties. Total ignorance of how Exo-CD24 is created. And, most humorous of all, an unabashed lack of understanding of the science and the reports.

    By the way, the clinical trial is, indeed registered on Clinicaltrials.gov.

    I look forward to Schneider’s upcoming article ridiculing evidence against a flat earth. What Schneider DOES prove is that anyone can post stupidity online. “For Better Science”?! Good one!

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