Medical scientists worldwide are working intensively on creating a vaccine against Corona virus.

Meanwhile Mesoblast, an Australian and US-based stem cell company, has won clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration to run a controlled, randomised trial of its candidate stem cell treatment on people with respiratory distress from Covid-19.
Covid-19 provokes an over-active immune response in our bodies and it’s this response that causes severe respiratory distress which can be fatal. Mesoblast Chief Executive, Silviu Itescu, explains that it’s at this later stage of the illness that its treatment should be effective.

“When Covid-19 affects the lining of the airways, you get a secretion of a lot of fluid. At the same time, you have an influx of immune cells to get rid of the virus – all sorts of immune cells – all secreting factors to eliminate the virus. Unfortunately, the immune system overacts and the major side-effect is the factors destroy the lung tissue itself.”

The result is patients in intensive care with ventilators helping them breathe, and it’s at this serious stage that Mesoblast’s treatment should work to bring down the mortality rate.

“The ability of our cell therapy to tame that excessive immune response we hope will result in reduced inflammation, improvements in lung function and hopefully in survival.”

The US FDA has given Mesoblast approval to start trials in partnership with the National Institute of Health in the US to start a trial on 240-patients with moderate-to-severe respiratory distress caused by Covid-19, which the company hopes to complete within 4 months.

Also good news is the fact that the stem cell candidate being trialled is quite developed. Mesoblast already has the cells, can manufacture them, and has already injected it into more than 1,000 patients with various diseases including a small study of Chinese patients with severe Covid-19 respiratory problems with good results and, in the US, in trials on seniors with lung disease and children following bone-marrow transplants.

Mesoblast is also collaborating with Australian researchers and talking to the Australian Government about a similar investigative program in Australia.  See more about Mesoblast at https://www.mesoblast.com/