Cell Therapies for COVID-19
As scientists around the world race to create a vaccine to help fight against the global COVID-19, they have also been working tirelessly to design new alternative treatments in the interim. While experts suggest that a coronavirus vaccine could be available on the market in early 2021, researchers may be close to discovering other solutions to help slow the spread. In an effort to explore all viable treatment options, researchers have turned to the field of cell therapy.
Let’s expand on just some of the cell therapy options being explored in the fight against this current pandemic.
Convalescent Plasma Therapy
Convalescent plasma is derived from the blood of individuals who have already recovered from an infection or disease. These individuals possess the antibodies, or a protein in plasma that fights bacteria and viruses, in their blood. Convalescent plasma therapy takes that a step further and infuses the plasma of those who have recovered from the virus into those who are currently infected in order to help boost their immune response.
Convalescent plasma therapy has received a fair amount of attention recently, and for good reason. This therapy has been applied in the prevention and treatment of epidemics for over a century, from the Spanish flu to polio to Ebola. While not meant to be a blanket treatment for every coronavirus case, the hope is that convalescent plasma therapy can be beneficial for those who are experiencing a severe or prolonged battle with COVID-19. As of the date on this post, convalescent plasma therapy is only being used as a treatment for patients who are experiencing a severe bout with COVID-19 and are not responding to other treatments or drugs. As with every treatment currently being sought out for the coronavirus, more trials will need to be conducted before there can be any definitive conclusions made.
Natural Killer T-cells for COVID-19
Natural killer T (NK T) cells are white blood cells that express both characteristics of adaptive and innate immunity, meaning they’re extremely effective in recognizing and responding to a wide range of attacks. NK T-cells can immediately recognize and respond to many different cell mutations, from tumors to blood cancer. In recent years, interest in NK T-cells has spiked due to its cancer neutralizing properties; however, in light of current events, scientists believe that NK T-cell’s ability to kill virally infected cells would make them an effective treatment for COVID-19 as well.
NK T-cells are a particularly promising candidate for treating COVID-19 because they can help control and reduce excessive inflammation caused by an overactive immune response to the virus. This hyperactive response from the immune system, known as cytokine release syndrome, may be a leading cause of death in COVID-19 patients. When the immune system overreacts to the virus, immune cells can sometimes turn on the body and attack important tissue in the lungs, heart and kidneys. NK T-cells may help to reduce this excessive inflammation and could potentially improve the health of COVID-19 patients.
The only hurdle researchers need to overcome is the fact that NK T-cells are incredibly scarce. To put it in perspective, one drop of blood contains around five million blood cells and less than one percent of that is NK T-cells.
Using Stem Cells in Cord Blood to Grow NK T-cells
Researchers have developed a work-around method to help deal with this scarcity problem. Scientists have found that they are able to grow a large number of NK-T cells, using cord blood. Cord blood and cord tissue are found in the umbilical cord of a newborn and are a rich source of special cells known as hematopoietic stem cells. These cells are valuable because they possess the ability to develop into all types of blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. These stem cells can adapt to and replicate themselves. This means that instead of having to extract a small amount of NK T-cells from millions of blood donors, they can generate the same amount of cells more efficiently and effectively.
It is important to note that research is still being done to test the efficacy of NK T-cells in terms of their ability to fight against COVID-19 infection. A lot of NK T-cell work is being adapted from cancer studies and will need to undergo more intensive trials directly related to COVID-19 before any definitive conclusions can be formed.
How HealthBanks Can Help
New and groundbreaking uses for immune and stem cells are being discovered every day, which is why it is critical, now more than ever, to preserve your cells for the future.
Since HealthBanks’ inception in 2001, we have grown into one of the world’s leading private and public cell banking organizations. In 2019, we became the first cryobank network to offer immune cell banking and storage for future use in immunotherapies. With the emerging success of CAR T-cell therapies as a viable cancer treatment, we expanded our ever-evolving suite of cryopreservation solutions to meet growing demand. HealthBanks is proud to use the best automated technology and smart robotic storage solution to preserve your precious cells. No other private cell banks in the US uses the same caliber of technology to protect your investment.
Using the experience and knowledge of our executive team, HealthBanks is fulfilling its mission to make the benefits of cell and gene therapies accessible to everyone.
Bank Your Cord Blood and Immune Cells Today
Healthbanks offers comprehensive immune cell banking options. Our state-of-the-art bioprocessing technology and world class customer service allows us to provide the best cord blood and immune cell banking experience in the industry. To learn more about our services and technologies and how you can begin investing in your future health today, visit our website healthbanks.us.