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U Of M Performs Clinical Trial On Treatment For COVID-19 Patients Experiencing 'Cytokine Storm'

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The University of Minnesota says they are undergoing a clinical trial for a possible new way to fight COVID-19.

The university reported they are using mesenchymal stem cells on a patient with COVID-19 and lung failure, the first treatment of its kind in the U.S. The clinical trial has been approved by the FDA.

Researchers say that this treatment hopes to halt the intense inflammatory response of the body as it fights the virus, best known as a "cytokine storm." This immune response has been shown to cause extensive organ damage in some patients.

"The inflammation seen in patients with severe COVID-19 can be devastating," Dr. David Ingbar, who is heading up the trial, said. "The cytokine storm can rapidly lead to shock, massive fluid buildup in the tissues, and direct severe tissue injury, most often in the lungs."

Researchers say that they have used mesenchymal stem cells to successfully combat other inflammatory diseases, and that their use has protected lung tissue from damage in other tests.

"The study will determine the effect of MSCs on stopping the cytokine storm," Dr. John E. Wagner, cancer researcher and director of the university's Institute for Cell, Gene and Immunotherapy, said. "In order to determine the real benefit of MSCs in these very ill patients, patients will be randomized to receive three doses of MSC 48 hours apart or a placebo solution."

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