Stem Cell Therapy COVID-19
(Photo : NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF)/Handout via REUTERS. )
An undated colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (green) heavily infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (purple), also known as novel coronavirus, the virus which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient sample.

A biotechnology company based in Ohio has announced that it is already working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to fast track an experimental stem cell treatment for the coronavirus disease or COVID-19, which could save lives and also improve its quality.

Cleveland-based biotech firm, Athersys, Inc said that they already have clinical trials underway with the use of "MultiStem" therapy in treating Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrom or ARDS.

According to Dr. Gil Van Bokkelen, Chairman and CEO of Athersys, Inc., ARDS is the primary cause of death in most of those who are dying with COVID-19 infection. Also adding that it is also the reason that patients need to be hospitalized, intubated and placed on ventilators.

Furthermore, he said that ARDS has extremely high morbidity and mortality rate among elderly patients who have underlying health conditions and that clinical trials showed that a single dose of MultiStem had positive results and can turn things around for these people quickly.

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What is MultiStem?

A "special class" of stem cells which were harvested from consenting adults who were heavily screened and were very healthy were used in the creation of MultiStem.

Similar to the Type O blood type which is considered the universal donor for all blood types, these "special class" stem cells underwent a process that makes them work and compatible in the same way.

According to Dr. Van Bokkelen, MultiStem is the kind of stem cell that can be largely produced and can be administered from off the shelf.

How does MultiStem work?

When the MultiStem is introduced in the body of the patients, they directly target the damaged areas, in the case of ARDS, the lungs and start the process to begin the healing.

Furthermore, Dr. Van Bokkelen said that when these cells are administered, they have years of evidence that prove that MultiStem is capable of homing to the sites of inflammation, injury and tissue damage and start repairing the cells.

He also added that based on their data, patients when got MutliStem within the first four days of being on a ventilator, evidence suggests that there is reduced mortality, as well as improvements on the pulmonary function, and these people spend less time in intensive care.

In addition, patients treated with MultiStem also showed that in the majority of cases, the lung damage and scarring caused by ventilators also healed which improved their quality of life and helping them fair better in the long run.

According to the biotech company, they released the results of their studies in January and they were immediately fast-tracked by the FDA to enter Phase 3 of their clinical trials.

At the moment, in cooperation with the FDA and other health institutions including hospitals in Cleveland, Athersys will begin testing MultiStem on COVID-19 patients within a few weeks.

Dr. Van Bokkelen said that he, along with everyone in Athersys believes that they are in the right place at the right time to help the world survive this pandemic that has already caused tens of thousands of lives.

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