The research explored therapy with umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells for extreme COVID-19.
A novel and pioneering randomized controlled trial was performed by researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, which showed that infusions of umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells safely decreased the risk of death and accelerated recovery time in the most serious COVID-19 patients, according to findings reported in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine in January 2021.
Study lead author Camillo Ricordi, M.D., director of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) and Cell Transplant Center, said it makes sense to treat COVID-19 with mesenchymal stem cells.
Results: Community in counseling vs. control group
The study explains the results of 24 patients who experienced extreme acute respiratory distress syndrome who were treated at the University of Miami Tower or Jackson Memorial Hospital with COVID-19.
A few days apart, each of them received two infusions of either mesenchymal stem cells or a placebo.
“The research was a double-blind one.
Doctors and patients were unaware of what was being injected,’ said Dr. Ricordi. “Two infusions of 100 million stem cells were given over three days, for a total of 200 million cells in each subject in the treatment group.”
The researchers discovered that the procedure was effective and there were no significant infusion-related adverse effects.
In the stem cell-treated group, patient survival after one month was 91 percent versus 42 percent in the control group.
100 percent of those treated with mesenchymal stem cells survived the first month in patients younger than 85 years.
Dr. Ricordi and his colleagues have found that for patients in the treatment community, the time for recovery was quicker. More than half of the patients treated with infusions of mesenchymal stem cells recovered and were able to leave the hospital within two weeks of their last operation. In the care group, more than 80 percent of patients recovered by day 30, compared with fewer than 37 percent in the control group.
‘The umbilical cord contains progenitor stem cells, or mesenchymal stem cells, that can be extended from a single umbilical cord to provide therapeutic doses for more than 10,000 patients.
It is a unique resource of cells that, if you need to modulate the immune response or inflammatory response, are being studied for their possible use in cell therapy, he said. “We’ve been studying them with our collaborators in China for more than 10 years in type 1 diabetes, and there are currently more than 260 clinical trials listed in clinicaltrials.gov for the treatment of other autoimmune diseases.”
Mesenchymal stem cells are capable of restoring natural immune reactions
In addition to helping correct immune and inflammatory responses that have gone wrong, mesenchymal cells also have antimicrobial activity and have been shown to facilitate tissue regeneration.
“Our findings confirm that UC-MSCs have a potent anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory effect.
The ‘cytokine storm,’ a hallmark of serious COVID-19,’ was clearly inhibited by these cells,’ said Giacomo Lanzoni, Ph.D., lead author of the paper and assistant professor at the Diabetes Research Institute. “The results are crucial not only for COVID-19, but also for other diseases characterized by aberrant and hyperinflammatory immune responses, such as autoimmune type 1 diabetes.”
The mesenchymal stem cells spontaneously migrate to the lungs when intravenously administered.
In COVID-19 patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome, a dangerous complication associated with extreme inflammation and fluid accumulation in the lungs, that’s exactly where therapy is required.
“It seemed to me that these stem cells might be an ideal treatment option for severe COVID-19,”It seemed to me that these stem cells might be an ideal treatment option for severe COVID-19. It takes only an intravenous (IV) injection, like a transfusion of blood.
To restore natural immune function and avoid life-threatening complications, it’s like a smart bomb in the lungs.
Early achievements of mesenchymal stem cells
Dr. Ricordi asked colleagues in China when the pandemic broke out if they had researched mesenchymal stem cell therapy in COVID-19 patients.
Indeed, for her and the Israeli