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EXO-CD24 to Prevent Cytokine Storm in Moderate to Severe COVID-19 Patients

Israeli researchers find breakthrough using EXO-CD24 for COVID-19.

The COVID-19 virus continues to spread, with more than 105.8 million cases confirmed worldwide. Scientists and researchers have been working to rapidly develop a vaccine. meanwhile, researchers have been studying patients treated with EXO-CD24 for COVID-19.

COVID-19 patients usually experience symptoms like the flu: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, muscle or body aches, fatigue, sore throat and congestion. Coronavirus patients also sometimes experience loss of taste or smell. Symptoms and severity vary from person to person.

In more severe cases, COVID-19 patients experience acute respiratory distress syndrome or multiple organ failure. Scientists have speculated that in some people COVID-19 infection triggers a hyper immune response called a cytokine storm. This response occurs in five to seven percent of all COVID-19 patients.

Cytokine activation

Normally cytokines activate the immune system, causing immune cells to target invading cells. Cytokines also signal white blood cells to divide more quickly in case of infection. But during a cytokine storm, the body overproduces inflammatory cytokines and over-activates immune cells. This cytokine storm has been one of the severe symptoms of COVID-19, thought to contribute to death in patients with severe COVID-19.

Treating and preventing viruses has been an important part of medical science since vaccinations first became common practice. Scientific research has developed several different ways to target deadly viruses. One of the most common is vaccinations.

To develop a vaccine, researchers studied the spike protein. The spike proteins present on the surface of the virus work like a key to unlock and enter human cells. When a person is infected with a virus, the immune system makes antibodies. Antibodies fight against invaders. Scientists have used this knowledge to create vaccines that induce an immune response to the spike protein of the coronavirus. When vaccinated, the patient’s immune system develops antibodies to fight the infection.

In addition to securing effective vaccinations against COVID-19, researchers have been searching for treatments that can be used in the fight against the pandemic. In an effort to save valuable time in this fight, researchers have tried to find existing drugs that might be able to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Repurposing EXO-CD24 to treat coronavirus

Researchers have been investigating potential treatments for COVID-19, which has included assessing already available drugs to be repurposed as treatments for the novel coronavirus.

One possible treatment has recently been studied for application to coronavirus patients. EXO-CD24 has been researched as a treatment for ovarian cancer, but doctors realized it had the potential to fight the pandemic by using EXO-CD24 for COVID-19. 

The Tel Aviv Ichilov Medical Center has studied EXO-CD24 for COVID-19 in a phase one clinical trial of 30 patients. Instead of working as an antiviral, EXO-CD24 for COVID-19 targets the cytokine storm that results from COVID-19.

The CD24 protein was first located years ago during research into autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Later studies showed CD24 acts as an “invisibility cloak” for cancerous tumors. It prevents white blood cells from doing their job by sending out a “don’t eat me” signal to the body’s immune system. That allows the CD24 protein to hide and allow cancerous tumors to grow.

Because of the CD24 protein’s unique ability to hide, scientists knew it had potential to be used in immunotherapy research for many deadly diseases.

Studies have shown that the CD24 protein is linked to inflammation and could be used to prevent inflammation as a response to injury. Professor Nadir Arber, of the Tel Aviv Ichilov Medical Center, theorized that the CD24 protein could be used to prevent the cytokine storm that happens in some COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Arber’s breakthrough discovery was using exosomes in combination with the CD24 protein. Exosomes are part of a transit system between cells. They are made by all cells to deliver materials between cells. Research has shown that exosomes may also be important in regulating the immune system. 

EXO-CD24 for COVID-19 utilizes the exosomes to deliver the CD24 protein directly to the lungs of COVID-19 patients. The CD24 protein was enriched with exosomes. In the lungs, the CD24 protein, which has an important role in regulating the immune system, would act to calm or prevent the cytokine storm experienced by some COVID-19 patients.

The phase one study was performed on 30 moderate to severe COVID-19 patients. The EXO-CD24 for COVID-19 was delivered directly to the lungs by inhalation once a day for five minutes. The patients were observed after receiving the treatment.

Within three to five days, 29 of the 30 moderate to severe COVID-19 patients recovered from the virus. The final patient also recovered after more time.

Another benefit of EXO-CD24 for COVID-19 is that it did not appear to have significant side effects. The medicine is easy to produce and is low cost, giving it another advantage over vaccines.

Research into EXO-CD24 treatment for COVID-19 will continue into later phases. Further research will be performed using the EXO-CD24 drug on a larger group of COVID-19 patients. Additional research will allow doctors to determine whether EXO-CD24 has any negative side effects, and how well it will work on all groups of people. An emergency authorization from the government will be required before it can be used as widespread treatment for COVID-19.

The breakthrough gives hope to a world paralyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to people struggling to adapt to the new normal.


 Breakthrough drug might cure COVID-19 in just five days.

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Image by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pixabay 

Rebecca Blankenship BSc
Rebecca Blankenship BSc
Rebecca Blankenship is a freelance technical writer. She reviews, edits, and authors internal quality documentation required for regulatory compliance. She has twenty years experience in industrial pharma/medical device quality management systems and an honors BSc in chemistry. She is a natural born rule follower and enjoys applying this strength to help others be audit ready to meet regulatory requirements. She also loves learning about the latest scientific discoveries while writing for Medical News Bulletin. Her free time is spent as a full-time mom, encouraging can-do attitudes and cooperation in her three children.


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