A systematic review and meta-analysis conducted by researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil, in partnership with colleagues in Germany and the United States, has found that the use of cell therapy in treating COVID-19 patients can reduce the risk of death from the disease by 60%. The findings of the study, which covered 195 clinical trials of advanced cell therapies targeting COVID-19 conducted in 30 countries between January 2020 and December 2021, were reported in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.
Cell therapy involves introducing healthy cells into the patient’s body in order to restore or alter certain sets of cells, carry out therapy throughout the body, or modulate the function of diseased cells. Stem cells and derivatives can be used from the patient or from a donor, and these cells are cultured or modified in the laboratory before being administered. The study found that the most frequently used cell types in clinical trials for COVID-19 treatment were multipotent mesenchymal stem cells, natural killer cells, and mononuclear cells from blood.
The study’s lead researcher, Otávio Cabral-Marques, highlighted that cell therapy has been used to treat cancer, autoimmune, heart, and infectious diseases in recent years. Regarding COVID-19, the study is the first to review and analyze the experiences of cell therapy treatment for the disease around the world. The study confirms that advanced cell therapy, particularly the use of mesenchymal stem cells, can limit the severity of the inflammatory response, reduce pulmonary damage, improve lung function, and assist in combatting fibrosis in COVID-19 patients.
Despite the promising results of cell therapy in treating COVID-19, Cabral-Marques emphasized that vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent the disease. The clinical trials analyzed in the study were conducted in several countries and had varying designs and methodologies. To overcome this heterogeneity, the researchers curated a COVID-19 trials database and made various quality refinements, allowing for a comprehensive meta-analysis of the data.
The study authors also pointed out the need for better data standardization and control of manufacturing and clinical delivery methods in cell therapy studies. The results highlight the important role that cell therapy can play as an adjuvant treatment for COVID-19 and associated complications, but it is essential to ensure comparability between studies. Overall, the study provides valuable scientific evidence supporting the use of cell therapy in treating COVID-19 and emphasizes the importance of continued research in this area.
– Frontiers in Immunology (Journal Reference)
– Fundação De Amparo a Pesquisa Do Estado de São Paulo