Medicine Icon Medicine

COVID-19 Adult Stem-Cell Trials: A Hopeful Sign

I was disappointed in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s dour statement that “we will never be the same” and that we won’t “get back to normal. There will be a new normal.”

I understand he is dealing with excruciating issues of life and death, but given the history of the United States, such pessimism is unwarranted. We have faced far worse than this and have moved through the pain into a better tomorrow. We will this time too.

Here’s a small reason for optimism. In addition to vaccine research, the potential of malaria drugs, and antiviral testing, adult stem cells are also being deployed in current or imminent human trials for treating the physical effects of the COVID-19 virus. One early study on seven patients with corona viral pneumonia has been completed with hopeful results. From the study published in Aging and Disease:

The pulmonary function and symptoms of these seven patients were significantly improved in 2 days after MSC [Mesenchymal stem cells] transplantation. Among them, two common and one severe patient were recovered and discharged in 10 days after treatment. After treatment, the peripheral lymphocytes were increased, the C-reactive protein decreased, and the overactivated cytokine-secreting immune cells CXCR3+CD4+ T cells, CXCR3+CD8+ T cells, and CXCR3+ NK cells disappeared in 3-6 days.

The scientists’ conclusion about the potential of these stem cells?

The intravenous transplantation of MSCs was safe and effective for treatment in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, especially for the patients in critically severe condition.

Is This a “Cure”?

No, it is not a cure. Much more work remains to be done to even get close to saying it is.

But it is a hopeful sign (among many). As we mourn the dead, succor the ill, hunker down in social isolation, and aid the suddenly unemployed, let’s not lose sight of the fact that progress is being made.

And that’s the point. With the public and private sectors energetically engaged in finding treatments and vaccines, manufacturing durable medical equipment, keeping food on our tables, electricity in our homes, and caring for the sick, this too shall pass. We will thrive again.

Photo: An adult stem cell, by Robert M. Hunt / CC BY.

Cross-posted at The Corner.