UAE coronavirus stem-cell treatment ‘does not kill virus’, treats symptoms: Official

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The UAE’s newly developed stem-cell treatment for the coronavirus is not curative, as it doesn’t kill the virus; it helps COVID-19 patients overcome the symptoms of the disease, Fatima al-Kaabi, Head Hematology and Oncology at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City said on Saturday.

The country announced on Friday that the Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Center developed a treatment that regenerates lung cells and prevents the immune system from overreacting.


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Al-Kaabi, who is also an assistant researcher at the stem cells programme, said: “The new therapy, which is the first of its kind in the UAE’s history, is still under clinical trials. Therefore, it is important to drive home the fact that the new potential therapy is a supportive treatment that rather helps coronavirus patients overcome the symptoms of the virus.”

“However, it does not kill the virus on its own.”

Elaborating on the new treatment, she said: “We have isolated a type of primitive stem cells, called embryonic stem cell, which researchers think carry regenerative potential. They belong to that type of cells that are capable of regenerating damaged cells to reduce lung inflammation resulting from COVID-19, and thereby can help these cells to self-regenerate.”

"The advantage provided by these cells is that they don’t require surgical intervention as is the case with other types of stem cells. They require a blood sample to be taken from the patient with the therapy to be inhaled into the lungs without surgical intervention.”

She added: “After a blood sample has been taken, the cells therein are subjected to a biological chemical process where the platelets responsible for growth are used to activate these cells so that we can get them inhaled back into the lungs."

A total of 73 patients, with mild to critical symptoms, have undergone the stem cell treatment as part of the medical trials.

"We did the first trial on April 4 and we are now close to completing the compilation of all needed data to perform more comparative trials.”

"The more patients we can try the treatment on, the faster we will decide how efficient the treatment is. We will compare the conditions of the patients who’ve received the supportive treatment with those who have not received. Health and safety are always placed on top of our priorities. The next step will be toward applying the treatment on a larger scale," she said.

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