Our New Partnership Kicks Off for COVID-19 Treatment

Recently, we announced we would be partnering with top research institutions to study how cord tissue mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) might help treat the symptoms of COVID-19.

Today, we’re announcing our collaboration with NantKwest, a clinical-stage immunotherapy company, to develop a COVID-19 treatment using newborn stem cells.

Anticipating the relevance of regenerative medicine, we developed a new way to create an MSC cellular product from cryopreserved tissue suitable for on-demand manufacturing.

We’ll be providing the research-donated umbilical cord tissue-derived MSCs to NantKwest, who will be expanding them with a proprietary system from their affiliate, ImmunityBio, Inc.

This partnership marks a series of exciting firsts:

  • When approved, we will be the first U.S. private newborn stem cell bank to participate in an FDA-approved human clinical trial with cord tissue-derived MSCs for COVID-19.
  • This partnership is a first step toward creating a therapy that addresses symptoms of COVID-19. Even more opportunities exist for treating chronic inflammatory diseases and other conditions that have minimal treatment options today.1
  • We will be the first U.S. newborn stem cell bank to demonstrate the feasibility of isolating and expanding MSCs from previously frozen composite cord tissue (comparable to fresh cord tissue). This expansion method opens the door to partnerships with companies like NantKwest, as other clinical trials have previously relied on fresh sources only.

Why are Cord Tissue MSCs being studied for COVID-19-related conditions?

MSCs found in cord tissue have been successfully used in many clinical trials for the treatment of lung conditions, even before the emergence of COVID-19.

Since newborn stem cells can help regulate inflammation and stimulate tissue repair, they’re becoming relevant for treating respiratory symptoms from acute lung injury, including damage from severe COVID-19.

MSCs are a great choice because they’re easy and noninvasive to collect (unlike other sources like bone marrow). Plus, they’re the youngest and most pristine source you can find!

Who is NantKwest?

NantKwest is an innovative, clinical-stage immunotherapy company focused on harnessing the power of the immune system to treat cancer and infectious diseases.

They are the leading producer of clinical dose forms of off-the-shelf natural killer cell therapies. Their goal is to transform medicine by bringing novel natural killer cell-based therapies to routine clinical care.

When does the partnership start?

The partnership kicks off immediately, with patient trials expected to begin in the fall. Both companies anticipate an FDA-approved treatment to be in the market for use in COVID-19 patients by early 2021.

And this isn’t the end! We will continue investing in the science and partnering with facilities and institutions.

What does this mean for CBR client families?

To be clear, this research is not an opportunity to use your stored cord tissue for COVID-19.

We do hope that this will pave the way for future options, and CBR is prepared to work with our families who enroll in any FDA-approved clinical trials or compassionate use protocols where their newborn stem cells may be part of treating COVID-19 and associated complications.

While we appreciate the willingness and generosity of our client families, we are not accepting planned cord tissue donations at this time.

As always, we’ll keep you posted as the science moves forward. Keep on the lookout for our next article, and don’t forget to share with friends and family!

References: 1. Liu, S., Peng, D., Qiu, H. et al. Mesenchymal stem cells as a potential therapy for COVID-19. Stem Cell Res Ther 11, 169 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13287-020-01678-8

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