Celularity and Infectious Disease Research Institute will try out COVID-19 cell therapy – GeekWire

LifebankUSA placental stem cell bank
Celularity’s subsidiary, LifebankUSA, maintains a repository of placental and cord blood, containing stem cells for potential therapeutic use. (LifebankUSA / Robert Hariri via Twitter)

Seattle’s Infectious Disease Research Institute and a New Jersey company called Celularity have been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to start trials of an experimental cell-based therapy for COVID-19.

The immunotherapy treatment makes use of natural killer cells, or NK cells, which play a key role in the body’s natural defense against viral infections. Celularity’s NK cell product, known as CYNK-001, is derived from placental stem cells for treating viral diseases as well as some types of blood cancers and tumors.

CYNK-001 has been safely given to patients in early trials for treating leukemia and multiple myeloma. Now the FDA has given investigational new drug clearance for its use to be extended to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

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“To date, efforts to treat COVID-19 cases have been primarily focused on antiviral medications,” Corey Casper, who is CEO of the Infectious Disease Research Institute as well as a clinical professor of global health at the University of Washington, explained in a news release. “While these are important, patients with serious disease may not respond completely to antiviral medications because they