With coronavirus cases not showing any signs of slowing down, scientists are also continuously seeking new forms of treatment. The latest promising coronavirus treatment is an infusion of stem cells that are derived from the umbilical cord.
A small study published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine, conducted by researchers from the University of Miami, suggested that stem cells from umbilical cords provided coronavirus patients with safe treatment. The researchers saw that there was a boost in the survival rate of the patients involved in the study and recovery was faster.
The study utilised a double-blind randomised trial. Twenty-four coronavirus patients were made part of the study. Half of them were suffering from lung damage. The 12 participants who have lung damage received two stem cell treatments administered several days apart. Each treatment had 100 million cells. The other half of the group received a placebo.
A month later, the researchers noted that there was a 91 percent survival rate in the group that had the stem cell treatment. The other group who only received the placebo had a 42 percent survival rate.
The researchers noted that there were no serious side effects and that the treatment was safe. Considering that they saw an improved survival rate in the group with lung problems, the researchers suggested that COVID-19 patients who are dealing with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is a serious lung condition, could benefit from the said treatment.
Hopkins Medicine revealed that patients normally suffer from ARDS as their pneumonia due to COVID-19 becomes more advanced. In this stage, the air sacs start to fill with fluid, which leaks from the lungs' blood vessels. ARDS can be defined as a form of lung failure, and patients who deal with this are often the ones who require a ventilator to breathe.
Aside from benefiting patients dealing with ARDS, the researchers also saw that there was a reduction in terms of inflammatory cytokines. Hence, there were lower levels of inflammation among patients overall.
The promising results derived from the small study prompted external experts to call for larger and multi-center clinical trials in order to establish efficacy. New York Post stated that Dr. Steve Lubinsky, NYU Langone Tisch Hospital's medical director of respiratory therapy, said that these stem cells have already shown anti-inflammatory effects in animals.