Cell-Based Therapies Show Promise for Seriously Ill Patients with COVID-19
A new report released by the independent, non-profit Alliance for Cell Therapy Now—a coalition of primarily academic and research institutions—summarizes the clinical studies that are now underway that explore the use of cell-based therapies for seriously ill patients with COVID-19.
According to the report, there are at least 114 clinical studies that explore the use of cell-based therapies for patients with COVID-19. At least 140 review articles have been published over the last 12 months that describe the promise or potential of these therapies for those affected by this deadly disease.
More than 30 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 540,000 individuals have died. While vaccines are making their way to eligible populations and therapies are beginning to emerge, to date, no approved therapy has shown significant benefit for the most severe cases, in which individuals are hospitalized.
Early evidence shows that cell-based therapies—in particular, mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs)—can play a key role in helping severely ill patients with COVID-19, given their immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory characteristics.
While early results of clinical studies are promising, large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials, along with cell characterization and optimization and scaling of manufacturing, are needed to confirm early results and help bring safe and effective treatments to patients in need.
The largest barrier to conducting clinical research related to cell-based therapies is the high cost of conducting these studies. The financial barriers associated with clinical trials is particularly problematic for academic and research institutions and small biotechnology companies, who are responsible for nearly all of the clinical trials in cell-based therapy being conducted for COVID-19 both in the U.S. and abroad.
Congress has approved nearly $40 billion in funding for vaccines, therapeutics, and other medical supplies within three COVID-19 relief packages passed and signed into law within the last 12 months.
The federal government should devote at least some of the billions of dollars provided by Congress for COVID-19, to research and development directed towards cell-based therapies to help patients with COVID-19, as well as other serious and life-threatening conditions.