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Cell & Gene Therapy Insights

Cell & Gene Therapy Insights

Mesoblast to test cell therapy against COVID-19 lung disease

Mesoblast Limited, an Australia-based regenerative medicine company, has announced its plan to evaluate its allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) product candidate remestemcel-L in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States, Australia, China and Europe.

The COVID-19 pandemic is now a major global health threat. As of 16th March 2020, there have been 164,837 infected cases and 6,470 deaths confirmed worldwide. Global spread has been rapid, with 146 countries now having reported at least one case.

As of now, there are no approved therapies against the novel coronavirus. Researchers are currently working on creating potential treatments for COVID-19, including vaccine development. Gilead’s anti-viral drug, remdesivir is the farthest along in the development with the drug being tested in five clinical trials now. The first experimental vaccine trial has also initiated in the US. The vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, was developed by the NIH and Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna Inc.

Mortality rate in COVID-19-infected patients with the inflammatory lung condition acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is reported to approach 50%, and it is associated with older age, co-morbidities such as diabetes, higher disease severity, and elevated markers of inflammation.

To address the ARDS associated with COVID-19 infection, Mesoblast is planning to test its anti-inflammatory cell therapy product candidate, Remestemcel-L. The product comprises of culture-expanded MSCs derived from the bone marrow of an unrelated donor and is administered in a series of intravenous infusions. Remestemcel-L is believed to have immunomodulatory properties to counteract the inflammatory processes that are implicated in several diseases. The company is in active discussions with various government and regulatory authorities, medical institutions and pharmaceutical companies to initiate a clinical trial.

Data supporting the potential of cell therapy in reducing ARDS symptoms was recently published from an investigator-initiated clinical study conducted in China which reported that allogeneic MSCs cured or significantly improved functional outcomes in all seven treated patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia. In addition, remestemcel-L infusions have also been shown to reduce chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by significantly reducing inflammatory biomarkers. Since the same inflammatory biomarkers are also elevated in COVID-19, the company is hopeful that remestemcel-L could be useful in the treatment of patients with ARDS due to COVID-19.

Remestemcel-L is currently being tested in several clinical trials across several inflammatory conditions, including in elderly patients with lung disease and adults and children with steroid-refractory acute graft versus host disease (aGVHD).

Source: Mesoblast to evaluate anti-inflammatory cell therapy remestemcel-L for treatment of COVID-19 lung disease; Website

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