A new COVID-19 drug being developed by an Israeli company aims to combat future pandemics of the disease and other contagious illnesses. 

101 Therapeutics, the pharmaceutical company behind the treatment, says that it is “pathogen-agnostic” and can also be used against a host of infectious diseases, such as HIV and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It claims to be creating “a paradigm shift in how we think about and treat infectious diseases.” 

The company will be partnering with one of India’s oldest national laboratories, CSIR-IICT, for the next three years to conduct clinical trials and complete the drug’s development. CSIR-IICT will offer expert guidance and monitoring throughout the duration of the program. 

The treatment, 101-PGC-005, is a high dose of dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory steroid that is already used to treat a variety of conditions like cancer, immune system disorders, breathing problems, and skin diseases.

101-PGC-005 aims to restore the immune system’s proper function by delivering dexamethasone at high doses and with high precision. It targets receptors found on macrophages, the immune system’s first cellular line of defense. 

Macrophages generally surround and swallow pathogens and dead cells to clear them from the body before recruiting immune cells to specifically target the infectious agent. 

Pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 (responsible for COVID-19) are able to block macrophages’ normal functioning, however, preventing them from properly deploying the body’s immune response, causing chronic inflammation and even organ damage. 

The two companies are also hoping that their partnership will yield affordable and accessible innovative solutions.  

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