Will stem cells offer hope against COVID-19 Coronavirus?

In these days of such uncertainty, not all the news is bad with the Coronavirus. Scientists in China are starting to test regenerative medicine treatments to reduce this pandemic that affects the whole world.  Dr. Dongcheng has already treated 9 patients who had been hospitalized with the virus with satisfactory results. The idea behind the treatment is to reduce the level of pneumonia and inflammation in the lungs through IV infusion of cord-derived allogeneic stem cells. 

This type of therapy has been performed mainly in COPD patients with the aim of reducing inflammation in the lungs. Normally when stem cells are given intravenously, they pass through a pulmonary pathway that essentially captures the stem cells where they are needed most in the patient’s body. Those stem cells and growth factors can then be effective in reducing inflammation within the lungs.

Several studies have shown that mesenchymal stem cells can differentiate into several different types of lung cells, such as alveolar epithelial cells, which are destroyed by various chronic conditions that cause emphysemic changes and reduced support of the small airways, causing hyperinflation and gas exchange abnormalities. Pre-clinical trials have suggested regeneration of alveolar structures, repair of emphysemic lungs and reduction of inflammatory responses. 

There are currently several doctors and companies working with the FDA and CDC in the United States to begin using stem cells. Even companies like Cord for Life promise 600K in products if the treatment gets approved. But the reality is that if it is true that cells could be an effective therapy for COPD, so far we lack sufficient data to claim that against coronavirus. However, we believe that it is worth trying, we are in a moment of crisis, people are dying and we cannot wait months for this therapy to be approved by the FDA. 

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