The Institute of Hematology and Immunology Dr. Jose Manuel Ballester Santovenia, in Havana, is developing a clinical trial for the use of intravenous stem cells in the treatment of patients with lung injuries as a result of COVID-19.
For the first time, this procedure is being applied in Cuba for post-pandemic lesions, although there is already satisfactory evidence of similar procedures for other diseases, both in the Caribbean nation and in other regions, including as part of the protocols used to deal with the new coronavirus.
Consuelo Macias, academic and director of the Institute of Hematology and Immunology, said exclusively to the Cuban News Agency that in the people treated so far it has been demonstrated that it is a safe treatment without adverse reactions, so it is expected to obtain benefits and that these injuries do not constitute a harmful consequence on the quality of life of the recovering patients.
The procedure consists of the administration by intravenous means of a concentrate of stem cells that includes hematopoietic cells and others with immunoregulatory properties, which diminish or stop the residual insterstitial inflammatory process that caused the viral infection, and as a consequence, the recovery of the damaged tissue.
For the movement of stem cells, which have the potential to regulate the inflammatory process and differentiate, regenerating damaged tissue, the granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, IOR LeukoCIM, from the Centre for Molecular Immunology, is used as a mobilizing agent.
Lung lesions caused by COVID-19 can progress and cause lung fibrosis, so this treatment can prevent further lung damage, Macias explained.
So far, 21 patients have been included in the trial and their hematological and immunological parameters have been evaluated. Studies are being conducted to determine other alterations, such as an electrocardiogram, breast, lung and abdominal ultrasounds, psychological evaluation, an X-ray and high-resolution chest CT scan, at the Institute of Oncology and Radiobiology.
The medical assessment allows for an overview of the state of health in the recovery stage, which provides extra value to the patient and the study in general.
The start of clinical research using regenerative medicine treatments began in Cuba in February 2004, when the first patient was treated with mononuclear cells extracted directly from his own bone marrow.