A Spanish project with mesenchymal stem cells opens the door to a possible treatment for Covid-19

A Spanish project with mesenchymal stem cells opens the door to a possible treatment for Covid-19

Performing a PCR

Performing a PCR

A group of Spanish scientists is investigating what could be an effective treatment for seriously ill patients with Covid-19 with mother mesenchymal cells, bringing together ideas from studios around the world.

The project seeks to verify that these cells work as a treatment against the coronavirus in coronavirus patients with serious respiratory problems. They have a solid foundation that supports them with a recent study published in ‘The Lancet’ showing clinical improvement in 70% of intubated patients with Covid-19 and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, who have been treated with allogeneic mesenchymal cells for compassionate use.

Dr. José María Moraleda, who signs the aforementioned article published in ‘The Lancet’, explains for 20Minutos that mesenchymal stem cells (or simply mesenchymal cells, as healthcare professionals prefer to call them) are “cells that are in the stroma of tissues. They serve to maintain the assembly of tissues, they are support cells that have very special characteristics that make them very valuable. ”

They have very powerful qualities of adaptation to the environment and have a great immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory power. They can be obtained from bone marrow, fat, umbilical cord or adipose tissue by pricking those tissues and isolating them in the laboratory, where they are multiplied by the millions to achieve therapeutic doses.

Covid-19 in serious condition inflames the lungs. The alveoli fill with fluid and patients cannot breathe; “That is what these cells avoid,” says Dr. Moraleda. Due to its enormous anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory capacity, mesenchymal cells once concentrated in therapeutic doses “are applied by local or intravenous injection, reach the lung and there they act against the respiratory distress that inflames the lungs”.

For Dr. Moraleda, director of the Spanish conferences on the project, the most relevant thing is “the demonstration of the safety of this treatment. It has been used in thousands of patients, has no risks and is very safe. 70% of patients intubated patients had a notable improvement, being able to take off assisted respiration. Thus, the preliminary efficacy results are very encouraging “. Based on these results, a clinical study pending approval by the Spanish Medicines Agency has been launched.

Fortunately, scientists in Spain have been working with this material for many years. “There are cells available in public hospitals. The way to get them is not complicated because we have experience, it is affordable. The first thing is to show that it is effective, then comes the problem of large-scale manufacturing and prices. our hospitals have been working on it for years, “says Moraleda.

Although the doctor believes that in Spain it would be possible, internationally it would require more research and logistical investment. “For Spain, the Ministry of Health itself was thinking of building at some point a manufacturing center for advanced therapies, according to Minister Illa said. It could be a good idea to do it starting from the rooms we have and thus have leadership in the world, since the cell therapy network has been the leader in Europe for many years in advanced therapies. ”

Prove it works. “It gives health workers a heartache. We really want to provide solutions and this is a Spanish solution. We have high hopes, we really want to contribute something that is useful because we are having a very bad time with this,” says Moraleda.

Research groups want to be able to show that the treatment works. What is needed to start the machinery “that is already ready and greased” is “the approval of Carlos III and the Medicines Agency and start the study as soon as possible.” The research has generated great interest abroad, leading to the creation of an international working group in which researchers from Harvard, Los Angeles, Milan, London, Dublin and Tel Aviv, among others, participate.


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