Melbourne-based medical technology company Mesoblast has seen its shares surge 17 per cent in early trading after announcing plans to evaluate its stem cell treatment solutions on Covid-19 patients in the United States, Australia, China and Europe.
Mesoblast will be targeting acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) caused by the virus, and claims to be in active discussions with various government and regulatory authorities, medical institutions and pharmaceutical companies.
Using bone marrow aspirate from healthy donors, Mesoblast's proprietary technology is currently used to treat a condition many suffer after receiving a bone marrow transplant (BMT).
Around half of the people who receive these transplants suffer from what is known as graft versus host disease (GvHD) whereby the body reacts badly to the new material with symptoms including vomiting and rashes.
Mesoblast's technology treats an acute form of this condition, and is available over the counter in Japan. The founder-led group is yet to turn a profit, but its sales growth success has led its shares to soar in value, cracking into this year's Melbourne Top Companies list.
Now the dual-listed company's product candidate product remestemcel-L may be trialled on patients with inflammatory lung conditions caused by Covid-19, with infected patients who develop ARDS expecting a close to 50 per cent mortality rate.
These respiratory problems are particularly associated with older age and co-morbidities such as diabetes, higher disease severity, and elevated markers of inflammation. Current therapeutic interventions do not appear to be improving in-hospital survival.
"Remestemcel-L has potential for use in the treatment of ARDS, which is the principal cause of death in COVID-19 infection," says Mesoblast.
"This is supported by recently published results from an investigator-initiated clinical study conducted in China which reported that allogeneic MSCs cured or significantly improved functional outcomes in all seven treated patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia.
"Remestemcel-L is being studied in numerous clinical trials across several inflammatory conditions, including in elderly patients with lung disease and adults and children with steroid-refractory acute graft versus host disease (aGVHD)."
The product candidate is currently being reviewed by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for potential approval in the treatment of children with steroid-refractory aGVHD.
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