Critically Ill COVID-19 Patients Recover Following Heart Cell Therapy

May 22, 2020 | Biotechnology

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Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center are planning a randomized, controlled trial to evaluate a form of allogeneic cell therapy for COVID-19, after four out of six patients critically ill with the disease recovered well enough following infusions of the cells to be discharged from the hospital. The remaining two patients who received the treatment are also alive, in the hospital.

The cell therapy, known as CAP-1002, comprises cardiosphere-derived cells (CDCs) derived from heart tissue, which are grown in the laboratory. Infusions of the cells were evaluated in the six patients under FDA compassionate use approval, at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The case series, published in Basic Research in Cardiology, is believed to be the first peer-reviewed report on the use of a cell therapy in critically ill COVID-19 patients, suggested co-author Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, executive director of the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai. “Previous studies provided strong evidence that CDCs have intense benefits for the immune system and inflammation in a number of diseases,” Marbán explained. “They accomplish this by secreting exosomes—nanoscale vesicles with a variety of active contents that travel widely throughout the body.

The Cedars-Sinai researchers, together with colleagues at Capricor Therapeutics, which manufactured the CAP-1002 cells, reported their findings in a paper titled, “Allogeneic cardiosphere-derived cells (CAP-1002) in critically ill COVID-19 patients: compassionate-use case series.”

Although most cases of COVID-19 are mild to moderate in severity, about 15% develop severe pneumonia, and nearly 5% progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and multiple organ failure, the investigators noted. “This worsening is predominantly driven by cytokine upregulation and an exaggerated yet maladaptive inflammatory respo... You can find the complete article in the GEN Blog.

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