Can stem cells really cure COVID-19?
Experts: Stem cells can restrain cytokine storm
COVID-19 has caused great panic all over the world. In the face of an infectious disease without specific medicine, the severely afflicted countries are as worried as ants on a hot pan. Recently, mainland China announced that it has adopted up-to-date stem cell technology to cure the disease instead of traditional therapeutic strategy. The good news is that it has showed remarkable therapeutic effect on curing the critical patients of COVID-19.
3 Advantages Make Stem Cells a Savior
It has been considered in traditional ideas that stem cells only have the repairing function. However, the potential of stem cells was substantially underestimated. Hwang Shiawmin, doctor of microorganism and molecular genetics in Rutgers University of the United States, revealed in the exclusive interview by HEHO Health that the functions of stem cells are summed up as the following 3 Rs. The full capacity of stem cells can only be manifested when these three Rs are put together.
- Replace (stem cells replace original cells): Stem cells differentiate into cells of specific functions to replace the dead cells in damaged parts.
- Repair (repair injured cells that haven’t died yet): Stem cells and the growth factors, cytokines, and exosomes secreted by the stem cells repair injured cells that haven’t died yet.
- Regenerate (regeneration of self-endogenous cells): Hwang Shiawmin said “regeneration” is the most important part of stem cell treatment. Due to the limited quantity of input stem cells, the most important thing is to use external stem cells to arouse the regenerative function of the injured part to impel the growth of endogenous cells from the body, which is the fundamental objective of the treatment.
An international journal confirmed: Immunoregulation of stem cells is the key capacity
In addition, mesenchymal stem cells also have one particularity, namely immunoregulation (and inhibition of inflammation).
Early in 2007, IJBM, an internationally renowned journal published an article proving that mesenchymal stem cells have remarkable immunosuppression effect. At present, the products of mesenchymal stem cells on the international market are principally used to inhibit over-immunoreaction, such as the rejection during organ transplantation, named GVHD, graft versus host disease. Hwang Shiawmin pointed out that mesenchymal stem cells can be obtained from marrow and amniotic fluid and other tissues.
Cytokine storm of the body caused by COVID-19 could kill people
Why could suppression of excessive immune system cure pneumonia? To answer that, we have to get back to the characteristics of COVID-19. Actually, the deadliest thing about COVID-19 is not the virus itself, but the cytokine storm of the body induced by the virus that leads to death just like SARS.
Cytokine storm refers to the excessive defense behavior of the immune system, which release over-dosage of cytokines. When T cells and macrophage meet the pathogens (COVID-19, in this case), they will produce a large amount of various kinds of hormones (cytokines), which will impair the normal cells.
After the cytokine storm is generated, inflammation will be triggered, which will result in telangiectasia, increasing permeability of blood vessels, tumidness, rubefaction, fever, stabbing pain, itching, and even anaphylactic shock. Even worse, the patients would die in a few hours.
Mesenchymal stem cells may be the key to suppressing immunoreaction
Therefore, how to control immunoreaction is the problem that needs to be solved. As mentioned above, mesenchymal stem cells can inhibit hyperplasia of immune cells to reduce cytokines produced by the immune cells. It is an effective immunosuppression tool.
There are a lot of sources of mesenchymal stem cells, among which the stem cells from amniotic fluid comprise a new favorite in this field. Not only are they convenient to collect and store, but also the researches on stem cells of amniotic fluid are rather diversified all over the world. The precise reason is that they have more potent capacities than other tissue stem cells.
Stem cells in amniotic fluid have the potential to cure various diseases.
Current research has showed that stem cells in amniotic fluid can be differentiated into neural stem cells; they are expected to be applied in the treatment of cerebral apoplexy and parkinsonism, and also the applied research of myocardial infarction, pulmonary fibrosis, acute renal failure, bone repair, etc. In the future, medical treatment will not be limited to the traditional way of medication after falling ill.