Cell-based therapies for coronavirus disease 2019: proper clinical investigations are essential

Maroun Khoury, Patricia R.M. Rocco, Donald G. Phinney, Mauro Krampera, Ivan Martin, Sowmya Viswanathan, Jan A. Nolta, Katarina LeBlanc, Jacques Galipeau, Daniel J. Weiss*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The serious consequences of the global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have prompted a rapid global response to develop effective therapies that can lessen disease severity in infected patients. Cell-based approaches, primarily using mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), have demonstrated a strong safety profile and possible efficacy in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), but whether these therapies are effective for treating respiratory virus-induced ARDS is unknown. According to the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform and the National Institutes of Health ClinicalTrials.gov databases, 27 clinical investigations of MSC-based cell therapy approaches have begun in China since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, with a growing number of academic and industry trials elsewhere as well. Several recent published reports have suggested potential efficacy; however, the available data presented are either anecdotal or from incomplete, poorly controlled investigations. Therefore, although there may be a potential role for MSCs and other cell-based therapies in treatment of COVID-19, these need to be investigated in a rationally designed, controlled approach if safety and efficacy are to be demonstrated accurately. The authors urge that the field proceed by finding a balance between swift experimentation and communication of results and scientifically coherent generation and analysis of clinical data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)602-605
Number of pages4
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020


  • COVID-19
  • MSCs
  • acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • cell therapy
  • coronavirus
  • mesenchymal stromal cells


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