The Application of Umbilical Cord Stem Cells in the Treatment of Covid-19

We at CryoSave South Africa wish to assure all clients that we are structured to be fully operational during the Nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. Together with our
Support Services, we trust that we will be able to continue to provide you with an excellent service and keep you updated on recent developments in the field of stem cell research and therapy. As a CryoSave Client, you might be interested in the following information relating to the potential application of umbilical cord stem cells in the treatment of COVID-19.

After the initial outbreak, the Coronavirus, (COVID-19), has spread to more than 100 countries and infected any thousands of people. Coronaviruses (CoV) belong to a large family of viruses causing respiratory illnesses, ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) upgraded the status of the COVID-19 outbreak from epidemic to pandemic. Epidemic refers to a sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected.

Pandemic refers to an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people. The most effective preventative treatment against a pandemic is a vaccine. Antibiotics are not effective because COVID-19 is a viral infection and not bacterial. There are currently various vaccine and treatment options being investigated around the world. Some medications may have the potential to be effective with regard to preventing the COVID-19 illness or treating the symptoms. However, the recent excitement in the ability of umbilical cord stem cells in the treatment of COVID-19 was sparked by the treatment of a 65-year-old woman in Kunming Hospital intensive care unit, with apparently no hope of survival.

Researchers from Kunming University led by Dr Hu Min, gave the patient three doses of umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) at different time points and, just four days after her first treatment, the woman was back on her feet. To date, eleven COVID-19 patients in China are reported to have been successfully treated with umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells. Over the past two months, three new clinical studies have emerged to investigate the potential use of MSCs in the treatment of patients infected with the novel COVID-19 virus. These studies, in facilities based in China, are focused on using umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells in the treatment of COVID-19.

The studies are part of a larger effort of more than 80 new clinical trials which are trying to tackle the fast- spreading virus. Why mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)? MSCs are cells that can differentiate into a variety of cell types and are a most sought-after stem cells in the field of regenerative therapies and tissue engineering. In addition, Umbilical cord tissue contains, predominantly, MSCs, highlighting a reason why many parents are choosing to store them at birth.

Current scientific research has shown that MSCs have traits that can be used to treat infectious diseases, i.e. they exert immune regulatory functions, they have the unique ability to travel to damaged tissues, promote the regeneration and repair of damaged tissue, and reduce tissue damage. Currently, Health Agencies that authorise and inspect clinical trials of new medicines are reported to be on stand-by to ensure that applications relating to COVID-19 are dealt with rapidly, to enable a quick and longterm treatment for this pandemic. Therefore, the possibility exists that emerging clinical trials using umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells may provide a breakthrough in the treatment of COVID-19.