Coronavirus-2020

Can Stem Cells help to Treat and Contain the Spread of COVID-19?

As on March, 2020, novel coronavirus has expanded from Wuhan throughout China and is being exported to a growing number of countries, with major impact on Italy, Iran and South Korea. It has infected more than 125,000 people and killed more than 4,000 in 114 countries; and the numbers are expected to only rise by 13-fold and the number of countries tripled (World Health Organization, March 2020).

In view of the alarming spread and threat to human life combined with the absence of any vaccine or any specific antiviral treatment recommended for 2019-nCoV infection, it has become high priority to immediately find a cure for the dreaded and highly contagious disease.

The question that arises – Can Stem Cells help to Treat and Contain the Spread of COVID-19?

Clinical Trials to Treat Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Using Umbilical Cord Stem Cells

Amidst the global angst of the rapidly spreading 2019-nCoV, commonly called COVID-19, 8 trials have been registered on clinicaltrials.gov to find out the efficacy and utility of stem cells in treating COVID-19. These form part of the 90 odd trials being conducted globally to find out the potential cure to the spreading virus.

The main focus of these 8 trials is to find the efficacy of Umbilical Cord derived & other sources of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in treating COVID-19.

The clinical outcome of 7 patients in Beijing YouAn Hospital, China was published on chinaXiv, where MSCs could cure or significantly improve the functional outcomes of all seven patients with COVID-19 pneumonia within 14 days without observed adverse effect. In fact the pulmonary function and symptoms of all patients with COVID-19 pneumonia were significantly improved in 2 days after MSC transplantation.

These 7 patients were categorized into 1 critically severe, 4 severe and 2 common. Among them, two common and one severe patient were recovered and discharged in 10 days after treatment. The study declared that the intravenous transplantation of MSCs was safe and effective for treatment in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, especially for the patients in critically severe condition.

Another successful treatment was published by a team of experts led by Bing Liang from Baoshan People’s Hospital where a critically ill 65-year-old Chinese woman infected with Sars-CoV-2, whose conditions significantly improved after the infusion of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).

A Phase 2 clinical trial using umbilical cord stem cells, conducted by Professor ZhiYong Peng, Zhongnan Hospital, has been recruiting patients with Serious Pneumonia and Critical Pneumonia caused by the 2019-nCOV.

Another trial led by Dr. Fu-Sheng Wang, Beijing Hospital, has progressed to Phase 2 multi-centre trial after their Phase I preliminary data showed that three doses of MSCs was safe in patients with COVID-19.

Over 250 patients will participate in these clinical trials and follow-up evaluation of these patients would be done from a minimum of 28 days to 180 days to document and report the effect. Consequently, in addition to the 8 trials registered on clinicaltrials.gov, several other clinical trials are being registered in respective countries, like 14 are in China alone.

Disclaimer: As per recent updates from research experts, this communication is shared only for the purpose of awareness and has been sourced from the reputed and reliable websites.

Why MSCs?

COVID-19 is a virus which causes respiratory disease with symptoms like fever, dry cough, and chest tightness. It is extremely contagious and the disease progresses rapidly. Severe cases of pneumonia is characterized by extensive acute inflammation of the lungs, leading to acute lung injury and rapid respiratory system failure in severe cases.

The key to cure the pneumonia is to inhibit the inflammatory response, resulting to reduce the damage and repair the function of the lung.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), have the unique ability to differentiate into a variety of cell types, are considered a preferred option for many regenerative and cell-based therapies.

  • Strong anti-inflammatory and immune regulatory functions
  • Unique ability to travel to damaged tissues
  • Promote the regeneration and repair of damaged tissues
  • Reduce tissue damage

Studies has also shown that MSCs have properties that may make them effective against infections, and significantly reduce lung inflammation and pathological impairment resulting from different types of lung injury. They are expected to have similar therapeutic effect due to which MSCs are being studied to treat COVID-19.

Why Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cells?

The recent clinical trials may make a breakthrough and emerge with options to treat COVID-19, thus making it possible to treat and contain the disorder.

Compared to Mesenchymal Stem Cells from other sources, Umbilical Cord tissue has always been preferred due to its uniqueness

* Rich in MSCs

* Ease of collection

* No ethical controversy

* Low immunogenicity

* Rapid proliferation rate

These advantages have made it a viable option during the current outbreak, where in 4 out of the 8 clinical trials, researchers and physicians are working to develop a cure with the help of UC-MSCs, also cord blood.
Disclaimer: As per recent updates from research experts, this communication is shared only for the purpose of awareness and has been sourced from the reputed and reliable websites.

Steps to be Taken:

‘World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic but a Controllable one’

Whilst it is understandable to feel anxious about the outbreak, WHO emphasizes the fact that, ‘if you are not in an area where COVID-19 is spreading, or have not travelled from an area where the virus is spreading, or have not been in contact with an infected patient, your risk of infection is low. However, it has been observed that although the virus infects people of all ages, there is evidence that older people (60 and over), and those with underlying health conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer), are at a higher risk.

Nevertheless, we all have a responsibility to protect ourselves, and others.

Right Now, the Word of Action is

Prevention, Preparedness, Public health, Political leadership and People.

  1. Everyone should frequently wash their hands (and wash them thoroughly, with soap)
  2. Maintain at least one-meter distance from anyone coughing or sneezing
  3. Avoid physical contact when greeting
  4. Avoid touching our eyes, nose and mouth
  5. Cover the mouth and nose with a bent elbow or disposable tissue when coughing or sneezing; and
  6. Stay home and seek medical attention from local health providers, if feeling unwell
  7. Regularly clean and disinfect home surfaces

WHO is urging everyone to “do the right things with calm and protect the citizens of the world. It’s doable.”

 

References-

  1. https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-mission-briefing-on-covid-19—12-march-2020
  2. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-death-toll/
  3. Tokiko Nagamura-Inoue and Haiping He. Umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells: Their advantages and potential clinical utility. World J Stem Cells. 2014 Apr 26; 6(2): 195–202.
  4. Treatment With Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Severe Corona Virus Disease 2019(COVID-19) (gov Identifier: NCT04288102)
  5. A Pilot Clinical Study on Inhalation of Mesenchymal Stem Cells Exosomes Treating Severe Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04276987)
  6. Mesenchymal Stem Cell Treatment for Pneumonia Patients Infected With 2019 Novel Coronavirus (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04252118)
  7. Study of Human Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cells in the Treatment of Novel Coronavirus Severe Pneumonia (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04273646)
  8. Stem Cell Educator Therapy Treat the Viral Inflammation Caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04299152)
  9. Novel Coronavirus Induced Severe Pneumonia Treated by Dental Pulp Mesenchymal Stem Cells (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04302519)
  10. Therapy for Pneumonia Patients Infected by 2019 Novel Coronavirus (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04293692)
  11. Umbilical Cord(UC)-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells(MSCs) Treatment for the 2019-novel Coronavirus(nCOV) Pneumonia (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04269525)
  12. Tokiko Nagamura-Inoue and Haiping He. Umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells: Their advantages and potential clinical utility. World J Stem Cells. 2014 Apr 26; 6(2): 195–202.
  13. Bing Liang et al. Clinical remission of a critically ill COVID-19 patient treated by human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells. chinaXiv:202002.00084.
  14. Zikuan Leng et al. Transplantation of ACE2- mesenchymal stem cells improves the outcome of patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. chinaXiv:202002.00080.
  15. who.int › docs › situation-reports › 20200311-sitrep-51-covid-19
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