#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 3°C Monday 12 April 2021

Belfast researchers launch clinical trial for Covid-19 patients using umbilical cord cells

The trial is being led by professors at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Image: Shutterstock/Likoper

RESEARCHERS AT QUEEN’S University Belfast are leading a cell therapy clinical trial for Covid-19 patients with acute respiratory failure. 

The clinical trial is investigating the use of allogenic Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), found in bone marrow and the umbilical cord, in patients with a complication known as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) caused by the Covid-19 virus. 

The trial is being led by Professor Danny McAuley and Professor Cecilia O’Kane.

In the most critically unwell patients with the virus, many develop ARDS. 

With ARDS, the lung becomes inflamed and leaky, filling with fluid. This causes respiratory failure and patients may require admission to intensive care and a ventilator machine to support their breathing. 

The clinical trial involves the use the MSCs, which have been shown in experimental models to reduce inflammation, fight infection and improve the repair of injured tissue. 

Patients in this trial will be treated with a purified population of MSCs taken from umbilical cord tissue called Orbcel-C. 

The Orbcel-C therapy has been developed by scientists at Orbsen Therapeutics in Galway. 

The trial is being introduced as part of an existing programme of research investigating the use of MSCs in patients with ARDS. 

The first patient has now been recruited with plans to recruit at least 60 patients throughout the Covid-19 pandemic at multiple sites across the UK, including Belfast, Birmingham and London. 

The trial has been identified by the UK National Institute for Health Research as a national urgent public health study. It is one of a number of Covid-19 studies that have been given urgent public health status by England’s Chief Medical Officer.

The study is being funded by the Health and Social Care Research & Development Division and the Wellcome Trust.  

Global coronavirus and infectious diseases expert Sir Professor Alimuddin Zumla of University College London said: “This is an exciting and important trial which targets rectifying and underlying causes of lung damage and has great potential of saving many lives from Covid-19. 

“The team should be congratulated for their leadership of host-directed therapies, a concept which has not yet been explored to its full potential.” 

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel