Stem cell therapeutics company Cynata's (ASX: CYP) pool of eligible patients in a COVID-19 treatment trial will be increased after the company received ethics committee approval to include those suffering from respiratory failure.
The expansion is a boon for the company that is currently relying on testing the few COVID-19 patients in Australian hospitals, giving them access to those suffering from respiratory failure who meet the criteria for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).
The MEseNchymal coviD-19 (MEND) clinical trial was initially designed to investigate early efficacy of Cynata's proprietary Cymerus mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in adults admitted to intensive care with COVID-19.
The approved expansion will enable recruitment of patients with respiratory failure arising from other causes, with COVID-19 no longer a requirement.
With ethics committee approval secured, Cynata is seeking to enrol 24 adult patients admitted to intensive care with respiratory distress (or compromised lung function) at selected Australian hospitals.
Cynata CEO Kilian Kelly says ethics committee approval will significantly accelerate recruitment.
"The expansion of this clinical trial represents execution of our strategy to ensure that, despite the dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will substantially increase the catchment of patients to accelerate the completion of the MEND trial," Kelly says.
"We have developed a solid pre-clinical data set in relevant diseases models of the severe respiratory distress and associated complications suffered by many patients affected by respiratory viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) and influenza.
"This expansion will increase the number of patients eligible for recruitment into this trial, which is designed to investigate the potential benefits of our MSCs in treating these severely ill patients."
The expansion of Cynata's trial comes after the group's major competitor and fellow biotechnology company Mesoblast (ASX: MSB) had to discontinue its own COVID-19 treatment trial.
MSB's trial failed to live up to expectations after its proposed treatment, remestemcel-L, failed to show a lower mortality rate for patients in the prescribed 30-day timeframe of treatment.
Shares in Cynata are down 1.59 per cent to $0.62 per share at 11.48am AEDT.
Updated at 1.08pm AEDT on 29 March 2021.
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