Researchers will try cell therapy for COVID-19

LifeBank cell bank
Celularity’s subsidiary, LifebankUSA, maintains a repository of placental and cord blood, containing stem cells for potential therapeutic use. (LifebankUSA / Robert Hariri via Twitter)

Seattle’s Infectious Disease Research Institute and a New Jersey company called Celularity have been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to start trials of an experimental cell-based therapy for COVID-19.

The immunotherapy treatment makes use of natural killer cells, or NK cells, which play a key role in the body’s natural defense against viral infections. Celularity’s NK cell product, known as CYNK-001, is derived from placental stem cells for treating viral diseases as well as some types of blood cancers and tumors.

CYNK-001 has been safely given to patients in early trials for treating leukemia and multiple myeloma. Now the FDA has given investigational new drug clearance for its use to be extended to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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