With the SARS-CoV-2 virus now widespread around the globe, scientists across many disciplines are racing to develop therapies for COVID-19 a disease which has disrupted our world. Vaccine research continues, and a wide range of potential treatments are being explored, including the repurposing of small molecules and de novo design of drugs and peptides. Interest in cell-based therapies has escalated over recent decades, largely driven by a growing appreciation for the inter-individual variation that exists for many diseases and the subsequent shift towards personalized medicine. This trend has been supported by increasing technical and manufacturing capabilities and has continued in 2020. In June, a director from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said their clinical team was stretched trying to deal with the COVID-19-related growth. In the same month there were more than 1000 cell therapies in the pipeline, 25 of which were available in the market. Increasing commercial investment suggests expectations of the industry are high, and it is hoped cell therapies will be available to treat a wide range of diseases in the near future. Faced with a global pandemic, we explore the following questions: can cell therapies help alleviate the symptoms of COVID-19? What strategies are being employed?
Table 1. Examples and rationale of cell therapy approaches for COVID-19
Michele Wilson is a freelance science writer for Choice Science Writing.