Using cell therapy could reduce the risk of death from COVID-19 by 60%


09.19.2023 12:35

Using cell therapy to treat patients with COVID-19 could reduce the risk of death from the disease by 60%, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis conducted by researchers at the University of Sao Paulo (USP) in Brazil, with contributions from colleagues in Germany and the United States.

The review covers 195 clinical trials of advanced cell therapies to combat COVID-19 that were conducted in 30 countries from January 2020 to December 2021, as well as 26 studies whose results were published by July 2022.

In recent years, cell therapy has been increasingly used to treat various diseases, especially cancer. It involves introducing healthy cells into a patient’s body to restore or change specific groups of cells, deliver therapy through the body, or modulate the function of diseased cells.

The technique uses stem cells and their derivatives from the patient (autologous) or from a donor (allogeneic). The cells are grown or modified in the laboratory before being administered. According to the article, the cell types most commonly used in clinical trials during COVID-19 treatment include multistream mesenchymal stem (connective) cells, used in 72% of the studies reviewed; natural killer cells from lymphoblasts used in 9%; and mononuclear cells from blood used in 6%.

“Cell therapy has advanced significantly in recent years and has been used to treat cancer, autoimmune, heart and infectious diseases. During the pandemic, it has been used to treat COVID-19 in a number of clinical trials. Our study is the first to review all the information on such trials scattered across worldwide, and allows us to find out through meta-analysis how cell therapy functions in the treatment of COVID-19 and related complications,” said USP School of Medicine professor and study coordinator Otavio Cabral-Marquez.

Stem cell therapies and models involving stem cell-derived organoids have received much attention as new treatments and studies of COVID-19 during the pandemic, he noted, given the significant immunoregulatory activity and tissue repair functions of stem cells, especially mesenchymal cells. In the lungs, for example, clinical trials have shown that advanced cell therapies can limit the severity of the inflammatory response in COVID-19 patients, reduce lung damage, improve lung function and help fight fibrosis.

However, as Cabral-Marques noted, it should be emphasized that real protection comes from vaccination.

“Although all of these studies have shown that advanced cell therapy may soon become an important complementary treatment option for these patients, disease prevention through vaccination remains the best protection,” he said.


Curator Elena Andreeva

Elena Andreeva—Deputy Director of the Federal State Budgetary Institution “National Medical Research Center for Endocrinology” of the Russian Ministry of Health—Director of the Institute of Reproductive Medicine

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