New clinical trial using stem cells from umbilical cord tissue launches for patients with severe Covid-19
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, widespread research has been launched worldwide into innovative treatments that could combat some of the symptoms of this disease. The amazing versatility of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has come into the spotlight recently in the treatment of Covid-19 patients with severe lung related complications.
In March 2020, we commented on how innovative research was highlighting the potential of MSCs in the treatment of patients with COVID 19. The science and research have progressed rapidly and now stem cells sourced from donated umbilical cord tissue have been shown to be effective at reducing severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (SARDS) in severely ill Covid-19 patients. The new cell therapy trial led by University of Miami based Professor Camillo Ricordi,
harnesses the anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory potential of MSCs to help control lung damage caused by the so called “cytokine storm” seen in some patients.
The cytokine storm is an overreaction of the body’s immune system where it produces an overload of proteins called cytokines in response to the virus. This can cause devastating damage to the lungs and other organs.
The new treatment is simple in principle, using two infusions of MSCs into Covid patients with SARDS. The MSCs travel through the bloodstream to the sites of damage and, thanks to their unique ability to produce certain key proteins, they help the body to repair the injured respiratory tissues.
The technology involves the extraction and expansion of MSCs in cell culture and as these cells are grown and increase in number rapidly, a single umbilical cord has the capability to yield plenty of MSCs to treat many patients.
This was a double blind study in which the doctors and patients did not know who received the actual cell infusion or a placebo control. Importantly, the results of the trial indicated that infusions of MSCs from umbilical cord tissue used in 24 patients with Covid-19 with SARDS were safe. The cell-based treatments were also shown to be effective at reducing mortality and recovery time in seriously ill patients. Overall, survival at one month was 91% in the stem cell treated group compared to 42% receiving placebo and 100% in those under 85 years. Encouragingly, the team reported that more than 80% of patients receiving the MSC infusions, recovered by day 30 compared to 37% who did not.
This is only one strategy in the battle to help patients with severe Covid-19 related complications, but it is a very significant step forward.
The amazing therapeutic potential of stem cells underpins this innovative intervention with Covid-19 patients and highlights the value and versatility of stem cell therapy. Cutting edge cord blood and tissue therapies are becoming a game changer in modern medicine, providing hope for the treatment of many diseases in the present and the future.