Researchers have investigated Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) in COVID-19 treatment to repair lung damage associated with COVID-19. Currently, there are no treatment options for COVID-19 related lung damage. Severely damaged lungs may require replacement through a transplant. In other cases, damage may heal slowly over time, although some damage may be permanent.
However, stem cell therapy is a promising option that may be able to not only heal damage but to regenerate lung tissue. Many stem cell trials are currently underway involving COVID-19 patients to determine the efficacy and value of this treatment.
COVID-19 may cause your immune system to overreact and over-release cytokines. Unable to stop, the resulting cytokine storm may cause damaging fluid to enter your lungs and harm or stop your breathing. It’s theorized that immunomodulatory MSCs may be able to normalize immune system function, quell the cytokine storm that affects the lungs, and help heal the damage caused.
MSCs may help fight inflammation, such as lowering the amount of the inflammation marker C-reactive protein and raising the levels of anti-inflammatory protein IL-10. Additional benefits of MSCs may include preventing pulmonary fibrosis and guarding alveolar epithelial cells.
Mesenchymal stem cells derived from umbilical cord tissue could help treat ARDS in COVID-19 patients, according to results of a Phase I/IIa clinical trial published by University of Miami researchers.
The trial’s primary purpose was safety, and while both the treatment and control groups received the best standard of care, there were no differences reported in serious adverse events between the group receiving infusions with 100 million umbilical cord MSCs and the group receiving a vehicle, and no adverse events observed related to infusion. The safety findings are in line with a Phase I study led by Chinese researchers from the National Clinical Research Center for Infectious Diseases, which showed higher and more frequent infusions of umbilical cord-derived MSCs to be safe in moderate to severe COVID-19 patients with pulmonary distress.