Mesoblast (ASX: MSB) is the latest ASX company to potentially benefit commercially from the coronavirus global epidemic after revealing it would be evaluating its anti-inflammatory product in COVID-19 patients that have developed acute respiratory distress.
To implement the evaluation of its proprietary Remestemcel-L anti-inflammatory allogenic mesenchymal stem cell product, Mesoblast is in active discussions with government and regulatory authorities, medical institutions and pharmaceutical companies across Australia, the US, China and Europe.
According to Mesoblast, patients with COVID-19 that have developed acute respiratory distress syndrome have an almost 50% fatality rate.
Patients most at risk of progressing to respiratory distress are the elderly, and those with co-morbidities such as diabetes, elevated inflammation markers and higher disease severity.
Mesoblast noted current therapeutic treatments do not appear to be improving in-hospital survival.
However, Mesoblast anticipates its Remestemcel-L product could potentially have clinical benefit to COVID-19 sufferers that have progressed to respiratory distress.
Mesoblast initially developed Remestemcel-L to treat rare paediatric and adult inflammatory conditions.
It is an investigational therapy that is made up of culture expanded mesenchymal stem cells extracted from bone marrow of an unrelated donor.
The Remestemcel-L is administered to patients via a series of intravenous infusions.
It possesses immunomodulatory properties that are believed to counteract the inflammatory properties found in several diseases.
Remestemcel-L works by down regulating the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and increasing production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, while recruiting naturally occurring anti-inflammatory cells to involved tissues.
Treating COVID-19 respiratory distress with Remestemcel-L
Mesoblast’s belief that Remestemcel-L could potentially be beneficial in treating patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome is underpinned by recently published results from an investigator-initiated clinical study in China.
It was revealed allogenic mesenchymal stem cells either cured or “significantly improved” functional outcomes for the seven patients with COVID-19 pneumonia in the trial.
Mesoblast also noted that post-hoc analysis of a 60-patient chronic obstructive pulmonary disease study showed Remestemcel-L infusions were “well tolerated”.
The infusions also reduced inflammatory biomarkers and “significantly” improved pulmonary function in those patients with elevated inflammatory biomarkers.