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US starts stem cell trial to seek COVID-19 cure

Could stem cells be used as a cure for covid-19

A new research trial in the US involving stem cell therapy has been given the go ahead in a bid to find a cure for COVID-19.

The Food and Drug Administration has granted the Diabetes Research Institute and Cell Transplant Center at the University of Miami Miller School permission to start work on the study.

In the last few years, stem cell research has become a very important part of the scientific understanding of type 1 diabetes. Prior to the global pandemic many researchers had been focussing their efforts on growing islet cells from people’s existing islet cells in an attempt to cure type 1 diabetes.

The newly announced COVID-19 trial will involve 24 people and the research team are hoping to investigate whether umbilical cord stem cells could help prevent lung inflammation that has been found among people with severe cases of coronavirus.

Lead researcher Dr Camillo Ricordi, director of the Diabetes Research Institute and Cell Transplant Center, said: “There is no time to waste. Patients who die from COVID-19 have a median time of just 10 days between first symptoms and death.

“In severe cases oxygen levels in the bloodstream drop, and the inability to breathe pushes patients toward their end very quickly; any intervention that might prevent that trajectory would be highly desirable.”

The trial is being sponsored by a non-profit group of scientists and innovators called the Cure Alliance. The organisation is dedicated to sharing knowledge and accelerating cures for all diseases and it has now committed all its resources to fighting the killer virus and creating a cure for COVID-19.

Before COVID-19, the FDA had granted permission for similar testing of umbilical cord-derived stem cells in people with type 1 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease for clinical trials.

Since then Dr Ricordi has drafted in further worldwide experts so they can give advice on infectious diseases, pulmonary medicine and critical care.

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