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Stem cell therapy shows efficacy at treating COVID-19, finds study

Researchers in China administered COVID-19 patients with a mesenchymal stem cell therapy that demonstrated success at treating the condition.

Blue stem cells

A group of researchers has used a stem cell treatment on a patient in Beijing, China to effectively boost the immune system to fight the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

“A lot of people are trying find the answers,” said Dr Kunlin Jin, who led the research in collaboration with researchers at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, US. 

Jin said that early findings are promising and the international effort to test this treatment continues as a long-term study with more patients in China.

“Our study showed that intravenous infusion of clinical-grade human mesenchymal stem cells is a safe and efficient approach for treating patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, including in elderly patients displaying severe pneumonia,” commented Jin. 

The stem cells were injected intravenously into the bloodstream of seven patients in YouAn Hospital in Beijing who were severely ill, while three patients were injected with a placebo.

The seven patients who received stem cells were successfully treated and discharged from the hospital within 14 days, report the researchers. Of the patients who received the placebo, one died, one became severe and the third had Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

“No specific drugs or vaccines are available to cure the patients with COVID-19 infection,” write the authors of the study. “Hence, there is a large unmet need for a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19 infected patients, especially the severe cases.”

However, before stem cells can be used in the US to fight COVID-19, there would have to be clinical trials and approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The findings are published in Aging and Disease.

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