There are currently 2.32M COVID-19 cases in the U.S., with over 120k deaths and counting. Despite these current numbers, states are beginning to open back up, business as usual a little more each day, even though we have yet to see an overall decrease in cases spanning the nation. It can seem like everyone is on a different page in a different book when it comes to best healthy practices for navigating through a pandemic, but one thing that is constant throughout this time, is the work doctors are doing to figure out a vaccine for the coronavirus and bring back the quality of life within the world. A definitive treatment as not been discovered as of yet, but one growing area of interest is the use of stem cell therapy for respiratory issues.
Stem cell therapy is the use of stem cells to treat or prevent a disease or condition. It’s meant to be administered to the affected area to provide an anti-inflammatory effect and healing to severely damaged tissues. In the case of patients suffering from COVID-19, doctors are hoping that stem cell therapy will be effective in treating respiratory issues that accompany the disease. Through initial pathogenesis, COVID-19 specifically recognizes, infects and destroys cells, so stem cell therapy would be a way to combat the continuous increase in cell death while also aggressively boosting overall cell regeneration. What’s also known is that patients over the age of 65 are most likely to be affected by the virus as the immune system and natural regenerative ability begins to weaken the older you get. However, this does not exempt people under the age of 65 from contracted the virus.
For those under the age of 65 with relatively good immune systems, contracting the virus is less common, but not out of the question. And what seems to be happening in younger cases of the virus is an overdrive of the immune system. It recognizes and releases inflammatory cells in excessive quantities to attack the virus, which can create a hostile environment for the infection, making it harder to turn itself off once it’s generated enough defense. The prolonged effects can then potentially flood the lungs with fluid, making it difficult to breathe and eventually lead to the lungs shutting down completely.
Clinical trials have shown that the transplantation of certain stem cells could protect alveolar epithelial cells, reduce inflammation to prevent pulmonary fibrosis and stimulate tissue reparation. While these trials are still in the early stage, professionals are continuing to rapidly test patients in order to minimize the death rate from this virus and subsequently prevent new cases from reaching this aggressive stage of deteriorating health.