Tag Archive: Research and Trials

  1. Umbilical cord blood transplant cures a woman of HIV 

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    More than 40 years after the HIV virus was first encountered researchers are still fighting to develop ways to cure HIV, including a range of potential gene therapies. Now one New York woman has been cured of HIV, which remains one of humanity’s most ‘resilient’ viruses. 

    HIV AIDS arrived in the late ‘70s. By the early ‘80s, it was rife, and a brand new pandemic had arrived. In 2020 alone, about 690,000 people died of the virus. Now there’s ‘VB’, a new and more infectious variant of the HIV virus. Luckily it’s treatable.

    There are hints about a cancer drug that could one day work alongside an existing HIV medicine to kill the virus. That’s one for the future. But a few days ago we heard some truly wonderful news about a woman who has been cured of HIV thanks to an umbilical cord blood transplant. Here’s what you need to know. 

    2007’s landmark HIV cure

    In 2007, Timothy Ray Brown was the first person to be cured of HIV. His transplant, from a donor who was naturally resistant to HIV, worked. Since then it has only happened twice more, once for a man called Adam Castillejo, and once with the current female New York patient, we’re discussing. All three people had cancer, needing a stem cell transplant to survive, and curing HIV wasn’t the main aim of the treatment. 

    New York City’s HIV therapy triumph 

    The woman was given a transplant of umbilical cord blood. The other two people we mentioned who have been ‘cured’ of AIDS were given adult stem cells from bone marrow. Umbilical cord blood is much more widely available compared to the adult stem cells used for the first two cures. And it also doesn’t come with the need for a close match between the donor and the recipient, either.

    The woman stopped taking antiretroviral drugs in October 2020 after a transplant of stem cells containing a rare genetic mutation that blocks HIV invasion. Since then she hasn’t seen any detectable signs of HIV virus despite extensive testing. Now she’s being hailed as the third person in the world, and the first female, to be cured of the virus that has killed countless millions.

    It all began with leukaemia treatment 

    Experts say the transplant method is too risky for most HIV patients. This is the first time it has been used as a ‘functional cure’ for HIV. The woman, who was suffering from the blood cancer leukaemia, was given a stem cell transplant taken from a person who had a natural resistance to the virus that causes AIDS. Now she has been free of the AIDS virus for 14 months. 

    The transplanted cells had a genetic mutation that stops the HIV virus from infecting them. Scientists think the woman’s immune system has developed resistance to HIV. This is amazing news for us, adding another string to an already impressive bow of potential umbilical blood stem cell treatments for nasty illnesses.  It also brings hope to the millions of people – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa – who are living with the HIV virus. 

    What does the future hold for umbilical cord stem cells and a cure for HIV? 

    As Sharon Lewin, president of the International Aids Society, says, while this transplant method isn’t viable for most people living with HIV, it ‘confirms that a cure for HIV is possible and further strengthens using gene therapy as a viable strategy for an HIV cure.’ 

    While the study is yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, and a scientific consensus hasn’t yet been reached, it’s hopeful. And when you’re living with AIDS, hope means a lot. 

    Bank your baby’s umbilical cord blood

    You never know when your child may become sick. By taking a few minutes to bank your baby’s stem cells after birth, you could protect them for years to come. Talk to our team today – download our brochure to find out more or book your free consultation!

    Sources

    stem cell preservation

    BSc (Hons) Microbiology

    Chief Executive Officer | Biovault Family

    Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.

  2. What is autism and can cord blood be used to treat it?

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    Umbilical cord blood is rather magical. The stem cells it contains have all sorts of health benefits, widely used to help treat a huge variety of conditions, some very serious. As experts in cord blood banking, we decided to explore the science and tell you the truth behind cord blood treatment for autism.   

    About umbilical cord blood and autism – The science bit! 

    Precious umbilical cord blood can be easily collected when your baby is born, then stored for future use to treat the child or another close member of your family. Does cord blood treatment prevent autism or affect the condition in any other positive way?  

    It’s important because one in 68 children suffer from ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder. It’s more than four times more common in boys than girls and it can happen to every child, whatever their background. So far, nobody knows the cause or causes behind the condition. But some experts believe it could be down to the immune system which, in some cases, reveals an ‘elevated response’. If this proves to be the case, and if the immune response can be somehow calmed down, doing so should help protect a child from developing autism.

    The science behind cord blood cells 

    Cord blood stem cells are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. Research reveals the cells in cord blood can regulate inflammation, migrating to the site of the injury. The ‘Bystander Effect’ is also at work here, where umbilical cord blood cells secrete substances to support the body’s natural repair mechanisms in surrounding tissue.  

    Two key scientific studies

    In 2014 a study by Duke University Medicine explored using umbilical cord blood cells to treat autism, along with strokes, cerebral palsy and other similar brain disorders. The study, whose results were released in 2017, looked into the safety of giving the children an intravenous infusion of their own umbilical cord blood.

    In the phase I study, involving 25 children aged between 2 and 5, researchers saw more than 66% showing better speech, better social skills, and increased eye contact as reported by parents and assessed by experts. This left the study’s creators feeling ‘cautiously optimistic’. The results inspired full double blind placebo-controlled phase 2 research, with answers posted in 2019. Sadly the results were inconclusive, as later confirmed in 2020. 

    In another study, this time in 2017, Dr. Michael Chez, Director of Paediatric Neurology at Sutter Medical Centre in California, USA, designed an experiment to look into using umbilical cord blood to treat autism. The study involved thirty children with autism aged between two and seven, all of whom had their cord blood cells harvested and banked at birth. 

    Every child’s autism was carefully evaluated before the experiment began. Then the children were randomly given either cord blood or a saline placebo IV-infusion before being monitored carefully for 24 weeks. After that each child was given the opposite infusion and monitored for a further 24 weeks. Nobody, including the researchers themselves, knew which child had been given which infusion first. 

    The results revealed that while cord blood infusions appeared safe in children with autism, and some of the children were found to have improved in some ways, the improvements couldn’t be applied to all the children, and there was no overall trend of improvements. 

    It’s also important to know that 30 children isn’t a big enough number to make statistically valid conclusions, which means the results weren’t statistically significant. And that means more research is needed to prove or disprove the theory. 

    The future cord blood banking outlook for autism

    Scientists believe this is only the start of the autism story, and that cord blood stem cells might still prove to have a positive impact on helping children avoid developing autism. For now, the jury is out. Much bigger studies are essential to find any evidence, if indeed there is any evidence to find. 

    You can rely on us to provide you with the latest science, information from experts that you can trust rather than unreliable reports from the media. Would you like to store your baby’s cord blood for a healthier future? If so, we can help!

    Download our brochure, schedule a meeting with one of our lovely sales team or just give us a call on 01752 753723.

    stem cell preservation

    BSc (Hons) Microbiology

    Chief Executive Officer | Biovault Family

    Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.

  3. Umbilical cord stem cells could improve survival chances for patients with Covid

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    A new study suggests umbilical cord stem cells found in the cord of new born babies implanted into Covid patients could improve survival chances. 

    The study was carried out in the USA by scientists at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine where researchers have reported a 91 per cent survival rate in seriously ill patients given umbilical cord blood stem cells, compared to 42 per cent in a group that did not receive the treatment.

    All of the patients aged under 85 who were treated with mesenchymal umbilical cord stem cells were alive a month after treatment. They were all suffering from acute respiratory distress syyndrome. There were also no reports of serious adverse reactions. 

    The study was published in January’s Stem Cells Translational Medicine Journal.

    The key findings of the study are:

    The study focused on 24 patients at University of Miami Tower or Jackson Memorial Hospital with COVID-19. They had all developed severe acute distress syndrome.
    It was a double blind study which means the doctors and patients did not know who was given the treatment.

    Each patient received two treatments, given three days apart, of either 1- million mesenchymal stem cells derived from the umbilical cords or a placebo.

    There were no infusion-related serious side effects reported.

    Recovery time was faster among those who had received the stem cells. More than half of those patients treated with mesenchymal stem cells recovered and were home within two weeks of their last treatment.  

    80 per cent of the treatment group recovered by day 30. Less than 37 per cent in the control group recovered in the same time.

    Each umbilical cord contains enough stem cells to treat 10,000 patients.

    Researchers say the treatment appears to be safe. They also believe the findings could lead to treatments for type 1 diabetes.

    Dr Camillo Ricordi, director of the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) and Cell Transplant Centre at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine said:

    “It was a double-blind study. Doctors and patients didn’t know what was infused.

    “Two infusions of 100 million stem cells were delivered within three days, for a total of 200 million cells in each subject in the treatment group.

    “The umbilical cord contains progenitor stem cells, or mesenchymal stem cells, that can be expanded and provide therapeutic doses for over 10,000 patients from a single umbilical cord. 

    “It’s a unique resource of cells that are under investigation for their possible use in cell therapy applications, anytime you have to modulate immune response or inflammatory response.”

    Giacomo Lanzoni, lead author of the paper and assistant research professor at the Diabetes Research Institute, said the findings were “critically important not only for Covid-19 but also for other diseases characterised by aberrant and hyperinflammatory immune responses, such as autoimmune type 1 diabetes”.

    He added: “If we could infuse these cells at the onset of type 1 diabetes, we might be able to block the progression of autoimmunity in newly diagnosed subjects, and progression of complications in patients affected by the disease long-term.”

    What happens now?

    According to UM’s researchers, the next step is to study stem cells in COVID-19 patients who have not yet become severely ill but are at risk of having to be intubated to determine if the treatment prevents disease progression.

    Find out more about Cord Blood Banking

    Talk to our team – download our brochure, talk to our sales team or book a call at a time to suit you.

    References

    Giacomo Lanzoni, Elina Linetsky, Diego Correa et at Umbilical cord mesenchymal cells for COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome: A double-blind, phase 1/2a, randomised controlled trial Stem Cells Transitional Medicine at 


    Howard Cohen (January 2021) Can stem cells hasten COVID recovery and halt deaths? Miami study has positive results. Miami Herald

    Bethany Dawson (January 2021) Umbilical cord stem cells implanted into Covid patients improve survival chances, study suggests, The Independent

    University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine (January 5, 2021) Groundbreaking Treatment for Severe COVID-19 Using Stem Cells – “it’s Like Smart Bomb Technology in the Lung” Scitechydaily

    stem cell preservation

    BSc (Hons) Microbiology

    Chief Executive Officer | Biovault Family

    Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.

  4. Stem cells used to treat leukaemia in toddler Arlo

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    Stem cell donation is vital

    Toddler Arlo Brown was diagnosed with the rare blood cancer myelomonocytic leukaemia in April. Seriously ill, he underwent a stem cell transplant in August. He is still very poorly but according to recent newspaper reports, is showing signs of recovery, although he relies on regular blood transfusions and a tube for his food and medication.

    While his family wait to see if the transplant has worked for little Arlo, a huge fundraising campaign has started to raise awareness of the life changing impact of stem cell and bone marrow donations.

    His parents Paul and Jodie Brown are urging people to find out if they are eligible to become donors through the charities DKMS and Anthony Nolan, and want to raise awareness of how easy it is to donate stem cells.

    Find out more about the work Anthony Nolan does and how to be a donor here https://www.anthonynolan.org

    Precious umbilical cord blood cells are so important

    Why is it so important to consider either banking or donating your baby’s umbilical cord blood?

    All of the blood cells in your body start out as immature cells called hematopoietic cells which are very young, and not fully developed.

    These are the same stem cells that are found in your baby’s umbilical cord blood and they can mature into any type of blood cell, depending on what the body needs when each stem cell is developing.

    Stem cells for transplants come from the bone marrow (from you or someone else); the blood stream (peripheral blood from you or someone else) and umbilical cord blood from newborns.

    The blood of newborn babies usually has large numbers of stem cells. After birth, the blood that’s left behind in the placenta and umbilical cord (known as cord blood) can be taken and stored for later use in a stem cell transplant. Cord blood can be frozen until it is needed.

    A cord blood transplant uses blood that is normally thrown out after a baby is born. If you choose to bank it, a specially trained person – a phlebotomist – will carefully collect this blood.

    Stem cells in umbilical cord blood can be used to treat leukemia

    A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine led by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre found that in patients at high risk of relapse after transplant, cord blood recipients seem to have better outcomes against leukaemia and the related bone marrow myelodysplastic syndrome. 

    The study found that the probability of overall survival after receiving a transplant from a cord-blood donor was at least favourable as those who had received a transplant from an HLA-matched (human leukocyte antigen) unrelated donor, and was considerably higher than those who had received a transplant from an HLA-mismated unrelated donor.

    Stem cells in umbilical cord blood are less developed than in adult stem cells, and they don’t have to be ‘matched’ as stringently to a patient’s human leukocyte antigen, or HLA type. 

    HLA genes are part of everyone’s unique genetic background that determines the likelihood of rejecting donor stem cells.

    Doctors will typically look our for a ten out of ten match of HLA genes between patients and donors, but if such a perfect match doesn’t exist among relatives or unrelated donors, they will often go with an eight out of ten, or nine out of ten match.

    Transplants from such ‘mismatched’ donors may be better than no transplant at all, but, according to studies such as the one described, cord blood transplants may be the best option of all.

    If you are considering banking your baby’s umbilical cord blood please talk to Biovault Family and we can answer all your questions. 

    Email us at hello@biovault.com, or find us on Facebook and send us a message.

    You can read more about umbilical cord blood and cancers in our Health Hub https://biovaultfamily.com/health-hub/cancers/.

    References:

    The Anthony Nolan Trust was set up in 1974 by Shirley Nolan’s whose her three-year-old son Anthony was in urgent need of a bone marrow transplant. Shirley set up the world’s first register to match donors with people in desperate need. 

    https://www.anthonynolan.org/

    The New England Journal of Medicine

    https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1602074?query=featured_home

    wwwFredHutch.org

    https://www.fredhutch.org/en/news/releases/2016/09/Umbilical-cord-blood-transplant-is-associated-with-high-survival-rate-among-high-risk-leukemia-patients.html

    Parents Guide to Cord Blood 

    To date, there have been over 35,000 cord blood transplants world-wide, and most of them were for leukemias and other blood disorders (Ballen Verter Kurtzberg 2015).

     Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation at https://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/faqs/can-cord-blood-cure-leukemia

    Health Day Article describing a Study in 2016

    https://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/leukemia-cancer-news-99/cord-blood-transplants-show-promise-in-leukemia-treatment-714631.html
    stem cell preservation

    BSc (Hons) Microbiology

    Chief Executive Officer | Biovault Family

    Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.

  5. Intravenous Infusion of Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cells Maintains and Partially Improves Visual Function in Patients with Advanced Retinitis Pigmentosa

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    Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a hereditary retinal degeneration disease with no effective therapeutic approaches.

    Inflammatory and immune disorders are thought to play an important role in the pathogenesis of RP.

    Human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (UCMSCs), with multiple biological functions such as anti-inflammation and immunoregulation, have been applied in different systemic diseases.

    We conducted a phase I/II clinical trial aiming to evaluate the safety and efficacy of intravenous administration of UCMSCs in advanced RP patients. All 32 subjects were intravenously infused with one dose of 108 UCMSCs and were followed up for 12 months. No serious local or systemic adverse effects occurred in the whole follow-up.

    Most patients improved their best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) in the first 3 months. The proportions of patients with improved or maintained BCVA were 96.9%, 95.3%, 93.8%, 95.4%, 90.6%, and 90.6% at the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th month follow-up, respectively. Most of the patients (81.3%) maintained or improved their visual acuities for 12 months.

    The average NEI VFQ-25 questionnaire scores were significantly improved at the third month (P < 0.05). The average visual field sensitivity and flash visual evoked potential showed no significant difference (P = 0.185, P = 0.711).

    Our results indicated that the intravenous infusion of UCMSCs was safe for advanced RP patients. Most of the patients improved or maintained their visual functions in a long term. The life qualities were improved significantly in the first 3 months, suggesting that the intravenous infusion of UCMSCs may be a promising therapeutic approach for advanced RP patients.

    Reference:

    Tongtao Zhao, Qingling Liang, Xiaohong Meng, Ping Duan, Fang Wang, Shiying Li, Yong Liu, and Zheng Qin YinPublished Online:15 Jul 2020https://doi.org/10.1089/scd.2020.0037

    stem cell preservation

    BSc (Hons) Microbiology

    Chief Executive Officer | Biovault Family

    Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.

  6. Hope for the treatment of autism with umbilical cord blood

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    Results from a study have revealed encouraging results for the improvement of symptoms of autism in young children following treatment with umbilical cord blood.

    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) impairs the way a person communicates and the way they perceive and interact with the world around them. The causes of autism are not yet fully understood but research suggests that genetic and environmental factors may account for changes in brain development. 

    At the Duke Centre for Autism and Brain Development Dr Joanne Kurtzberg and other researchers are bringing new hope to the treatment of autism. 

    Cord blood has the ability to cross the blood–brain barrier and differentiate into neurons and other brain cells. There are a few schools of thought on how cord blood can repair brain trauma or neurodegenerative disorders:

    • The transplanted stem cells directly replace dead or dying cells.
    • The transplanted stem cells secret growth factors that indirectly rescue the injured tissue.
    • The transplanted stem cells build a “biobridge” that connects the healthy section of the brain and the damaged section of the brain to facilitate the transport of new neural stem cells to the area in need of repair.

    Duke University Medical Centre have found that 70 per cent of the children in their study who received cord blood had improvement in one or more of the core symptoms of autism.

    180 children aged 2 – 7 years of age with a confirmed diagnosis of ASD were tested to see whether cord blood infusions would improve symptoms of autism.

    The children tested did not have a known genetic cause of ASD, had no other illnesses, were English speaking, had tested negative for Fragile-X, a genetic disorder characterized by mild-to-moderate intellectual disability, and had a negative chromosomal microarray. They were divided into two sections – treatment and placebo. 

    Children received autologous cord blood (their own cord blood) if they had a qualifying unit that contained a minimum of 25 million cells per kg of the child’s weight, based on the pre-cryopreservation count. Children lacking an autologous cord blood unit received a >4/6 HLA matching unrelated donor cord blood unit. Both the autologous and donor cord blood units had to contain a minimum cell dose of 25 m.

    120 children received cord blood (60 autologous and 60 allogeneic) and 60 children received placebo for their first infusion. Children were analyzed for response at 6 months after their first infusion.  Children crossed over at 6 months to a second infusion. Children receiving cord blood for their first infusion received placebo for their second infusion. Children receiving placebo for their first infusion received cord blood for their second infusion. The type of infusion given at baseline and at 6 months was blinded so that no one interacting with or testing the children knew which infusion was given at each time-point.

    The study showed significant improvements in the cord blood group for the subset of children on the study who were 4-7 years of age and were without intellectual disability (NVIQ >70). Improvements were seen in communication (VABS-3 Communication Scale), attention (eye tracking), and increased alpha and beta EEG power. 

    In most of the measures, there were no advantages of allogeneic or autologous cord blood identified. But on the Clinical Global Impression-Improvement scale, only children receiving allogeneic cord blood showed improvement, compared to placebo.

    It is very important to note that children receiving allogeneic cord blood were given a higher total dose of cells compared to the children receiving autologous cord blood. Thus, it was not possible to know whether this ‘advantage’ of allogeneic cord blood was due to increased dose or the donor cell source.

    The study has concluded that there were encouraging results for the sub-group of children ages 4-7 with NVIQ >70. Significant improvements were seen in communication, eye tracking and EEG Bran scans.

    References

    https://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(20)30334-6/fulltext
    https://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/news/results-duke-act-study-cord-blood-autism-inside-scoop-dr-kurtzberg
    stem cell preservation

    BSc (Hons) Microbiology

    Chief Executive Officer | Biovault Family

    Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.

  7. Stem cells hold huge promise for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease

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    Stem cells offer the greatest potential in any area of medicine to treat some of humanity’s most devastating and debilitating conditions.  These include; Parkinson’s disease; spinal cord injury; heart attack; diabetes; blindness; multiple sclerosis; Alzheimer’s; stroke; organ transplantation; arthritis and osteoporosis; bone, tendon and cartilage damage; and sports injuries.

    This year Black Sabbath frontman’s Ossie Osbourne’s daughter reported he was ‘feeling better’ and had seen his Parkinson’s symptoms improve since undergoing experimental stem cell treatment for the neurodegenerative condition.

    “Seeing, after one treatment of stem cell, what has happened and the progress that he’s made is mind-blowing,” said Kelly. “He wants to get up. He wants to do things. He wants to be a part of the world again. He’s walking better. He’s talking better. His symptoms are lessening. He is building the muscle strength back that he needs.”

    Ozzy was diagnosed in 2003 with Parkin 2 – a very rare genetic form of Parkinson’s.

    Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition. This means that it causes problems in the brain and gets worse over time. 

    It develops when cells in the brain stop working properly and are lost over time. These brain cells produce a chemical called dopamine.

    Symptoms start to appear when the brain can’t make enough dopamine to control movement properly.

    There are 3 main symptoms – tremor (shaking), slowness of movement and rigidity (muscle stiffness) – but there are many other symptoms too.

    The number of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the UK is about 145,000. But there are more than 1 million people in the UK who are affected, either by living with Parkinson’s, or as a friend, colleague, or family member of someone who is.

    Stem cells hold tremendous promise for regenerative medicine due to their unique ability to self-renew and divide into specialised cells. This means that when the body needs more stem cells, they can replicate to produce more specialised cells that can replace damaged ones.

    They can be derived from several sources including umbilical cord blood, embryonic origins or reprogrammed from adult cell types.

    While no stem cell-based treatment has been proven safe and effective for the treatment of Parkinson’s, stem cells do hold huge promise, which is why pioneering research is happening around the world to develop treatments.

    stem cell preservation

    BSc (Hons) Microbiology

    Chief Executive Officer | Biovault Family

    Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.

  8. Umbilical cord cells to be used in breakthrough treatment for Covid-19

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    Blood derived from umbilical cord cells are being used to treat patients with serious forms of coronavirus.

    In a world first, discovered by Australian researchers, patients at a Melbourne Hospital will be infused with the treatment to check its safety.

    The trial will recruit up to 24 patients with moderate to severe pneumonia, which develops in serious cases of Covid-19, and it is expected to be finished before the end of the year.

    The treatment could prevent the progression of pneumonia.

    Speaking to the news.com.au, study co-leader Professor Graham Jenkin, Monash University,  said: “It’s not going to cure coronavirus and its not like a vaccine that will prevent it, but it’s particularly designed for patients who progress from the very mld form [of the virus] to the very dangerous form that causes people to have to go to hospital.”

    A good example of this kind of case is Prime Minister Boris Johnson who was hospitalised after his condition worsened. Mr Johnson made a full recovery, but this is not always the case, and Mr Jenkins comments that if patients are treated as soon as they arrive at hospital, before their condition progressed to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS),  it could prevent deaths.

    ARDS develops from cytokine stork syndrome, an over-reaction of the body’s immune system to the virus caused by localised over production of inflammatory factors.

    The study’s co-leader is Dr Atul Malhotra, a clinician scientist at Monash Health and Monash University, who said when the virus enters the immune system it triggers the body’s immune response to attack the virus, resulting in localised inflammation. 

    This can result in hyper-inflammation, causing serious harm to affected organs, causing multi-organ failure and, if untreated, the cytokine storm syndrome, which is usually fatal.

    Increasing evidence suggests that cells from umbilical cord blood are anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive and lodge in the lung—the primary site of the SARS CoV-2 infection – when given intravenously.

    Mr Malhotra said: “Our aim in this COVID trial is to prevent the hyper immune reaction leading to a cytokine storm before it progresses to acute respiratory distress syndrome.”

    This is the first trial to use cord blood-derived cells for Covid-19 related pneumonia.

    References:

    https://www.monash.edu/medicine/news/latest/2020-articles/world-first-clinical-trial-using-umbilical-cord-blood-cells-to-treat-covid-19
    stem cell preservation

    BSc (Hons) Microbiology

    Chief Executive Officer | Biovault Family

    Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.

  9. New Cell Therapy Trial Launches for Patients with Severe COVID-19

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    Researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have received approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration to start a small clinical trial using stem cells against COVID-19.

    The trial will evaluate the use of umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells to address the symptoms of life-threatening lung inflammation suffered by people with the severe form of the disease caused by Coronavirus.

    Dr. Camillo Ricordi, director of the Diabetes Research Institute and Cell Transplant Centre at the school and the principal investigator on the trial, said the cells derived from one umbilical cord, which are typically discarded after a woman gives birth, could generate enough stem cells to treat over 10,000 patients.

    Stem cells have the capability of becoming specialized cells that sometimes repair damage, and the type taken from umbilical cords — known as mesenchymal stem cells — are adaptable to a number of uses.

     “There is no time to waste,” said Dr. Ricordi. “Patients who die from COVID-19 have a median time of just 10 days between first symptoms and death. In severe cases oxygen levels in the bloodstream drop, and the inability to breathe pushes patients toward their end very quickly; any intervention that might prevent that trajectory would be highly desirable.”

    Ricordi is particularly optimistic about that potential for the type of life-threatening lung condition that can accompany COVID-19, because IV infusions of the stem cells are known to naturally flow to the lungs.

    Beyond that, Ricordi said the mesenchymal stem cells are known to have anti-inflammatory qualities that help calm so-called “cytokine storms,” when a patient’s immune system is kicked into overdrive and does more damage than the virus itself.

    “It’s practically injecting an army of cells that can fight some of the most severe complications of the virus infection,” Ricordi told the Miami Herald.

    The 24-patient trial will begin this week in Miami, with half of the patients receiving the stem cell therapy and the other half serving as the control group. Those patients will not receive stem cell infusions but will still be administered advanced medical treatment, Ricordi said.

    As an established diabetes researcher, Ricordi has already developed notable treatments with stem cell therapy, including one trial that allowed patients with Type 1 diabetes to avoid insulin after receiving stem cell transplants.

    After seeing small but promising studies in China and Israel, Ricordi said he is “very optimistic” because he works with those researchers.

    The China study looked at 10 patients in Beijing from January 23 to February 16, observing the effects of the treatment for two weeks after stem cell injections in seven of those patients. For all seven, the researchers found that lung function and other symptoms significantly improved two to four days after the treatment.

    Ashok K. Shetty, associate director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Texas A&M University College of Medicine and co-editor of the the Aging and Disease medical journal, said in an editorial that the Chinese study showed promise.

    “This study demonstrated that intravenous infusion of MSCs is a safe and effective approach for treating patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, including elderly patients displaying severe pneumonia,” Shetty said.

    Ricordi said UM already has the manufacturing capability in place to treat the patients in the trial, and that could be expanded quickly. He added that if the trial is expanded, he believes the team would have the ability to treat all of the COVID-19 patients at UM and its partner Jackson Health System, Miami’s public hospital.

    The doctors should be able to tell if that expansion is coming soon.

    “This is not a study you have to follow up with in six months, because the results are immediate,” Ricordi said. “In one week, you know: Is it working or not?”

    To that end, Ricordi said UM researchers and doctors are already preparing to expand the trial to more patients.

    “We are already doing cell production anticipating this,” he said. “We are planning for success, but of course we have to see how it does with our patients.”

    Article source:

    http://med.miami.edu/news/new-cell-therapy-trial-launches-for-patients-with-severe-covid-19

    References:

    https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2020/04/16/FDA-approves-trial-of-stem-cells-for-severe-COVID-19-treatment/3481587064269/
    https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2020/04/16/FDA-approves-trial-of-stem-cells-for-severe-COVID-19-treatment/3481587064269/?sl=4
    https://www.miamiherald.com/news/health-care/article242008576.html
    stem cell preservation

    BSc (Hons) Microbiology

    Chief Executive Officer | Biovault Family

    Biovault Family CEO, Kate Sneddon, joined Biovault in July 2009 and became Chief Executive Officer in 2016. As health industry professional her experience includes working as a microbiologist and leader at GSK for over 10 years. Her expertise in cord blood banking has been recognised in her awards, features in Parliamentary Review and Parents Guide to Cord Blood, as well as contributions to research with UCL and others.