Cell-based therapies for coronavirus disease 2019: proper clinical investigations are essential

Maroun Khoury, Patricia R.M. Rocco, Donald G. Phinney, Mauro Krampera, Ivan Martin, Sowmya Viswanathan, Jan A. Nolta, Katarina LeBlanc, Jacques Galipeau, Daniel J. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The serious consequences of the global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have prompted a rapid global response to develop effective therapies that can lessen disease severity in infected patients. Cell-based approaches, primarily using mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), have demonstrated a strong safety profile and possible efficacy in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), but whether these therapies are effective for treating respiratory virus-induced ARDS is unknown. According to the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform and the National Institutes of Health ClinicalTrials.gov databases, 27 clinical investigations of MSC-based cell therapy approaches have begun in China since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, with a growing number of academic and industry trials elsewhere as well. Several recent published reports have suggested potential efficacy; however, the available data presented are either anecdotal or from incomplete, poorly controlled investigations. Therefore, although there may be a potential role for MSCs and other cell-based therapies in treatment of COVID-19, these need to be investigated in a rationally designed, controlled approach if safety and efficacy are to be demonstrated accurately. The authors urge that the field proceed by finding a balance between swift experimentation and communication of results and scientifically coherent generation and analysis of clinical data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • cell therapy
  • coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • mesenchymal stromal cells
  • MSCs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research
  • Transplantation


Dive into the research topics of 'Cell-based therapies for coronavirus disease 2019: proper clinical investigations are essential'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this