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First Stem Cell Clinical Trial for Protection Against COVID-19 Approved by FDA

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 09 Apr 2020
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The FDA has approved a Phase II clinical trial evaluating efficacy and safety of Hope Biosciences’ (Sugar Land, TX, USA) autologous, adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (HB-adMSCs) to provide immune support against COVID-19. MSCs are well-known for their immunomodulatory and regenerative potential. In a recent Phase I/II clinical trial for rheumatoid arthritis, results appeared to show that HB-adMSCs were safe and effective in attenuating systemic inflammation. In COVID-19 patients, inflammation is a driving force behind disease progression, and it is critical to regulate the immune system as early as possible.

This Phase II study is a single arm, non-randomized study that is expected to enroll 75 participants that are either 50 years of age, have preexisting health conditions, or are at high-exposure risk. The study’s primary objective is to determine the efficacy of HB-adMSCs to prepare the immune system so that it is better able to fight the virus, should one become infected. Hope anticipates that this pretreatment will limit the progression and severity of COVID-19, ultimately keeping patients out of the hospital and off of mechanical ventilation. HB-adMSCs are administered via five intravenous infusions over a fourteen-week period and follow-up evaluations through six months. All participants will be monitored for changes in health status, including immune cell levels, inflammatory markers, and requirements for supplemental care or hospitalization.

This is the first of three New Drug Applications (INDs), related to COVID-19, that Hope has filed with FDA. This initial protocol is specifically designed for patients who already have their own stem cells banked with the company. The next two protocols will utilize a donor cell source that will aim in protecting against COVID-19 for those at high risk (patients and frontline workers) and treating hospitalized patients.

“This study will utilize our proprietary core technology to deliver high quality, pure mesenchymal stem cells with standardized doses and multiple treatments. Our novel technology allows us to overcome the burdens of traditional cell therapy, such as inability to make enough cells to make a significant impact. We can produce, on-demand, over 1,000 highly concentrated HB-adMSC treatments from a single tablespoon of the patient’s own fat tissue. Most people who have been severely affected by COVID-19 had preexisting conditions. We are pretreating participants who are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19, with the belief that we can prepare their immune systems, giving them their best chance to fight the virus” said Donna Chang, President and CEO of Hope Biosciences.

“Our ultimate goal is to prevent anyone from needing mechanical ventilation. We believe that interceding early in the inflammatory process will give us the best possible outcome. Treating the disease is very important but if we have a chance to prevent the condition, we must explore all options. We appreciate the FDA’s willingness to take this groundbreaking approach at such a critical time for our nation” added Chang.

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