Australia joins international bid to use stem cells against COVID-19
Stem cell therapy is producing remarkable results in getting respirator cases to breathe without assistance. Photo: University of Melbourne
A new stem cell treatment for coronavirus patients is set to be trialled by Sydney’s Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.
Executive director Professor Jason Kovacic says the institute will work on a local clinical trial of the treatment also being explored by US researchers.
Nine out of 12 patients in the US administered with stem cells were able to come off a ventilator in just 10 days, he noted.
An optimistic Professor Jason Kovacic will lead the Australian research effort. Photo: Victor Chang Research Institute
“These stem cells were trialled extensively for patients with cardiac diseases and the beauty of them is it is an off-the-shelf therapy,” Prof Kovacic told the Sunday Telegraph.
“The stem cells can be administered to any patient and have substantial effects on changing the course of inflammation and the immune response.”
The institute is looking to start trials with local patients in coming months.
Prof Kovacic says the treatment could help avert higher mortality among COVID-19 patients with pre-existing cardiovascular illness.
As part of the international effort, the Australian program will expandpromising trials already underway at New York’s Mt Sinai Hospital, in Texas and in California.
Coronavirus victims find their lungs fill with fluid and cannot supply oxygen to the body, explained University of Texas researcher Dr. Charles Cox.
“We wouldn’t anticipate seeing a substantial turn around in terms of lung function for at least 72, 96 hours.
“A good rule of thumb is you are probably not going to better quicker than you got sick.”