The Hadassah Medical Organization has begun clinical trials of a drug that may help in the treatment of COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized in the Outbreak Unit at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. The drug, Camostat Mesylate, is used in Japan to treat pancreatitis. Head of Hadassah’s Nuclear Medicine Institute Prof. Eyal Mishani initially procured 7,000 pills for treating COVID-19 patients.  

“A basic study by a team of German researchers found that the drug inhibits the infection of healthy cells in human tissue through the ACE-2 receptor,” says Mishani. “In an article published in the last few days in the journal CELL, the researchers explained how the virus enters the cells and how the drug can significantly stop entry. The drug is approved for use in Japan for other purposes and now in the clinical test it will be given to COVID-19 patients at Hadassah.”

The criteria for patient selection were defined by a Hadassah team in a proposal approved by the Helsinki Committee responsible for medical trials in humans. Those in the early stages of COVID-19 will take three pills daily for five days. Initially, 10 patients aged 40 to 80 who are in mild to moderate condition will be selected. This is in addition to a trial just beginning using another Japanese drug, Avigan. That trial is taking place in several Israeli hospitals, including Hadassah, on 80 patients, all in the early stages of COVID-19.