(September 2020) Doctors around the world are conducting clinical trials using adult stem cells to treat patients with COVID-19. Patients with severe cases can develop pneumonia, which can be caused partly by an overactive immune system.

 “Some patients who have this infection, their immune system goes in hyperdrive, so to speak,” says Dr. Sunil Abhyankar, at University of Kansas Medical Center. “The side effect of all that reaction, which we call a cytokine storm, results actually causing damage to the body, rather than helping the body.”

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Dr. Abhyankar is the Director of the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center in Kansas. He and other doctors are studying how adult stem cells called “Mesenchymal Stem Cells” from an umbilical cord can help regulate the immune system.

“We’ve been working with the umbilical cord mesenchymal cells for several years now. The cells are able to down-regulate the immune system.” Dr. Abhyankar was involved in a phase one clinical trial which showed promise controlling the immune response in cancer patients with Graft vs. Host Disease, a serious condition caused by the immune system going into hyperdrive.

Thanks to successful studies by Dr. Abhyankar and others, the FDA has approved more than 50 clinical trials studying the use of umbilical cord stem cells to treat patients with the most