COVID-19 has grown to become a global health emergency yet no specific drug or vaccines are available to cure the patients with infection.
Researchers from King’s with Shanghai University, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, China, intravenously transplanted mesenchymal stem cells into seven patients and observed results over 14 days. Before the transplantation, all patients had pneumonia with symptoms of high fever, weakness, shortness of breath and low oxygen saturation. All symptoms had disappeared by two to four days after the transplantation.
Mesenchymal stem cell transplantation could be an exciting and innovative therapy to treat patients with COVID-19, especially for those individuals that are older– Co-author Georgina Ellison-Hughes, Professor of Regenerative Muscle Physiology from the School of Basic & Medical Biosciences
The coronavirus-infected pneumonia is more likely to affect older individuals, especially males, with comorbidities. Infection could lead to severe and even fatal respiratory diseases.
The study, published in Aging and Disease, found improvement was particularly dramatic for an elderly male patient in a severe critical condition. This is because the mesenchymal stem cells restored the balance of the immune system. Once the immune function was restored, the elderly patients were able to make a recovery.
Among the patients, one severe and two common patients were able to make a recovery and be discharged 10 days after treatment.
The study may have a broader significance, even beyond the treatment of the severe coronavirus disease. This study shows that the general therapeutic improvement of the immune system in the elderly can improve outcome and survival, which may have more general relevance for other aging-related communicable diseases.