Mesenchymal stem cell therapy shows promise in treating COVID-19

By Zhang Liying
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, March 7, 2020
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A new study has found that mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy could be effective in treating COVID-19, according to research published in the peer-reviewed journal Aging and Disease.

The study, conducted by a research team led by Robert Chunhua Zhao, a professor from Shanghai University and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, assessed clinical outcomes of seven patients treated with MSC therapy at Beijing You'an Hospital for 14 days. They found that MSCs could greatly optimize the functional outcomes of the patients without observed adverse effects.

"The pulmonary function and symptoms of all patients with COVID-19 pneumonia were significantly improved two days after MSCs transplantation. Among them, two moderate and one severe patient were recovered and discharged in 10 days after treatment," wrote the research paper.

According to Ilia Stambler, director of research and development at Shmuel Harofe Geriatric Medical Center in Israel, the exact mechanism by which MSCs deliver benefit is mainly revealed, and a major theory is that MSCs have the ability to restore the immune balance, especially of the elderly patients.

MSCs can reduce the overproduction of immune cells caused by a reaction to the virus and reduce excessive levels of inflammatory substances, thus regulating the immune system and the entire organism back to a normal state, said Stambler.

Stambler said that treatments for COVID-19 are only emerging, and it is too early to compare their effectiveness with other approaches.

"More research will be needed to evaluate their effectiveness and safety. It may well be that the most effective therapy will be a combination of different approaches," he said.

What can be safely said at this stage, following this pioneering study, is that MSCs show great potential to become an essential part of the therapeutic arsenal, Stambler added.

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