Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) have begun testing an experimental stem cell therapy developed by Mesoblast Limited to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients with moderate to severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) who are on ventilators to help them breathe.
The trial, which is being conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) and additional sites across the U.S., will involve a total of 300 patients randomized to receive either the drug remestemcel-L or a placebo in addition to the recommended standard of care to manage severe COVID-19 infections. The first patient in this national trial was treated at UMMC.
The research, funded by Mesoblast, an Australian regenerative medicine company, is designed to determine whether the drug reduces the risk of death within 30 days after the onset of treatment and whether it reduces the number of days from a ventilator to recovery.
“This stem cell therapy is a potential new therapy in our treatment arsenal to battle COVID-19,” said Sunjay Kaushal, MD, PhD, UMSOM professor of surgery and chief of the University of Maryland Congenital Heart Disease Outreach Program. “There is an urgent need to find new life-saving therapies for our sickest COVID-19 patients who are suffering from ARDS and require ventilators. We are eager to see whether remestemcel-L can reduce mortality in these patients.”
Remestemcel-L is an experimental stem cell