Biotechnology, Covid-19

Use of Stem Cells in COVID-19 Treatment

Student Contributors: Sutrishna Ghosh, Ananya Chakraborty (B.Tech Biotechnology 3rd Year)

Stem cell therapy has become the latest range in the natural healing process. Stem cells are extraordinary cells having the potential to be differentiated into any kind of cells, known as pluripotency. Stem cells are self renewable also. Thus they can promote the repair response of disease, dysfunctional, or injured tissue. In stem cell therapy there is a very less chance of immune rejection; because those stem cells are collected from the patient’s body. And this treatment is less harmful also. Different stem cells have different functions. For COVID-19 treatment, the use of pluripotent stem cells has already been started.

In this context, we can talk about a company specializing in stem cell isolation, expansion, and cryopreservation, already reported that Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) are safe and effective for the treatment of SARS-CoV2. US-FDA also opened the way to use MSCs intravenously in COVID-19 patients. These companies have already explored the immunomodulatory/anti-inflammatory properties of MSCs. Some reported preclinical data explains that MSCs can significantly reduce the respiratory virus. SARS-CoV2 firstly attacks lungs which cause deoxygenation to RBCs and results in multi-organ failure. In some cases, those who received an infusion of MSCs are recovered within 3 weeks. Following these successful studies, many more pharmaceutical companies all over the world have also started their clinical trials.

MSCs express a verity of chemokines and cytokines which are involved in the repair mechanism of degraded tissue and counteraction of inflammation. MSCs have both immune-enhancing and immunosuppressive properties. MSCs can change the functions of various cellular components of our immune system like macrophages, T-cells, B-cells, Natural Killer Cells (NKC), dendritic cells, etc and this is how the stem cells can be used for immunomodulation. MSCs promote macrophages to the anti-inflammatory phenomenon. MSCs secret interleukin, IL-1 receptor antagonist, that can promote the polarization of macrophages toward the anti-inflammatory phenotype. Anti-inflammatory monocytes secrets high level of IL-10 and decreases the level of IL-12, TNF-a, IL-17.

To treat the Covid-19, MSCs are introduced directly to the lung cells and if required, they can be injected to the other affected organs also. The greatest advantage of using stem cells for the treatment of Covid-19 is the absence of side effects.

Based on the researches done so far on the effects of MSCs on Covid-19, here is a probable protocol for the treatment of Covid-19 positive patients using stem cells:

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