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Treatment with human umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells for COVID-19 patients with lung damage: a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled phase 2 trial

By Lei Shi, Hai Huang, Xuechun Lu, Xiaoyan Yan, Xiaojing Jiang, Ruonan Xu, Siyu Wang, Chao Zhang, Xin Yuan, Zhe Xu, Lei Huang, Jun-Liang Fu, Yuanyuan Li, Yu Zhang, Weiqi Yao, Tianyi Liu, Jinwen Song, Liangliang Sun, Fan Yang, Xin Zhang, Bo Zhang, Ming Shi, Fanping Meng, Yanning Song, Yongpei Yu, Jiqiu Wen, Qi Li, Qing Mao, Markus Maeurer, Alimuddin Zumla, Chen Yao, Wei-Fen Xie, Fu-Sheng Wang

Posted 20 Oct 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.15.20213553

BACKGROUNDTreatment of severe Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is challenging. We performed a phase 2 trial to assess the efficacy and safety of human umbilical cord-mesenchymal stem cells (UC-MSCs) to treat severe COVID-19 patients with lung damage, based on our phase 1 data. METHODSIn this randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled trial, we recruited 101 severe COVID-19 patients with lung damage. They were randomly assigned to receive either UC-MSCs (4 x 107 cells per infusion) or placebo on day 0, 3, and 6. The primary endpoint was an altered proportion of whole lung lesion volumes from baseline to day 28. Other imaging outcomes, 6-minute walk test, maximum vital capacity, diffusing capacity, and adverse events were recorded and analysed. RESULTS100 COVID-19 patients were finally recruited to receive either UC-MSCs (n = 65) or placebo (n = 35). UC-MSCs administration exerted numerical improvement in whole lung lesion volume from baseline to day 28 compared with the placebo (the median difference was -13.31%, 95%CI -29.14%, 2.13%, P=0.080). UC-MSCs significantly reduced the proportions of solid component lesion volume compared with the placebo (median difference: -15.45%; 95% CI -30.82%, -0.39%; P=0.043). The 6-minute walk test showed an increased distance in patients treated with UC-MSCs (difference: 27.00 m; 95% CI 0.00, 57.00; P=0.057). The incidence of adverse events was similar in the two groups. CONCLUSIONSUC-MSCs treatment is a safe and potentially effective therapeutic approach for COVID-19 patients with lung damage. (Funded by The National Key R&D Program of China and others. ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT04288102.)

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