Coronavirus which has forced the world to come to a halt is still wreaking havoc. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the pandemic is getting worsened day by day, with no major signs of improvement. As everyone is looking for a ray of hope in these dark days, an Indian-American owned research body has become one of the first companies in the world to get the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval to treat Covid-19 patients with stem cells. Led by Dr Anand Srivastava and Dr Prabhat Soni, Global Institute of Stem Cell Therapy and Research (GIOSTAR) will use the Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) to manage the Covid-induced inflammation in patients.
Seen as a major step towards treatment of Covid-19 patients, the development has brought new hopes for medical professionals across the globe. The pandemic, caused by a new pathogenic virus, has so far resulted in more than three million deaths worldwide. Talking about the achievement, Dr Soni said, “Nature always has the answers to all the questions, we need to learn a way to search for those answers. Stem cells are the magnificent gift given by nature to mankind and answers to several metabolic and degenerative diseases. We communicated with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and proposed to help the patients who are facing devastating fate due to unavailability of credible treatments. FDA found it very promising and approved MSC treatments for use in the very sickest Covid-19 patients under what’s known as ‘expanded access for compassionate use’.”
It has been found that the corona infection provokes varying responses in people including no symptoms, mild flu-like discomfort, or severe pneumonia-like symptoms in many. In serious patients, sometimes an uncontrolled immune response pushes the immune system into a condition which leads to blood clotting or thrombosis that can damage organs fatally. Scientists at GIOSTAR have shown that MSCs have a very specific set of characters because of which, when infused in the bloodstream, produce signalling molecules called cytokines which suppress the proinflammatory or bad cytokines and also down-regulate the inflammatory gene actions.
Considering uncontrolled inflammation as the primary cause of pathobiology, Dr Srivastava thought to utilise the anti-inflammatory characteristics of MSCs for treating Covid-19 patients. “I try to follow the footsteps of Dr Jonas Salk who is well known for inventing the first successful polio vaccine. He used to say that hope lies in dreams, in imagination and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality. The rationale for using the stem cells for treating Covid-19 patients is rooted in two facts. The first one is that SARS Cov2 infections provoke severe pneumonia-like symptoms by cytokine storm leading to uncontrolled immuneresponse, thus pushing the immune system into overdrive mode and damaging the patient’s own tissues and organs, sometimes fatally. The second fact is that MSCs are known to have immunemodulatory capacity including anti-inflammatory, and may help to fend off the Covid-19-induced cytokine storm,” said Dr Shrivastava