Cord blood T lymphocytes treat COVID-19

The previously unknown disease, which mainly affects the respiratory system, has already affected more than 17 million people worldwide and nearly 700,000 have died. Almost 70,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Ukraine, of which more than 1,500 were lethal. An effective etiotropic treatment for COVID-19, as well as an effective vaccine, has not yet been developed. Among the immunobiological drugs for the treatment of COVID-19, mesenchymal stem cells and other cell preparations are widely studied.

Dozens of clinical studies have already been registered in the world to study the effectiveness of mesenchymal stem cells of the placenta, umbilical cord, adipose tissue in the treatment of COVID-19. After all, mesenchymal stem cells have a pronounced anti-inflammatory and restorative effect. Umbilical cord blood T-lymphocytes may be equally important in the treatment of respiratory distress syndrome caused by COVID-19. The main function of T-lymphocytes is to protect the body from viruses and malignant cells. T-lymphocytes isolated from umbilical cord blood, like other cell populations, have a number of advantages over the biomaterial of an adult donor.

So, in July 2020, researchers from Johns Hopkins University Hospital published an article in the scientific journal Annals of Internal Medicine, which covers the results of treatment of respiratory distress syndrome caused by COVID-19, with T-regulatory umbilical cord blood cells. Both patients were ventilated, tocilizumab was ineffective in both, and both patients developed multiple organ failure. Both patients received 3 doses of T-regulatory cells according to the FDA approval issued in emergencies.

Within 48 hours of the first administration of T lymphocytes, clinical improvement was observed in both patients, which correlated with a decrease in the cytokine storm and a decrease in blood levels of C-reactive protein, ferritin, IL-6, IFN-gamma, and TNFα.

Physicians are very excited about the effect of cell therapy and look forward to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to investigate the efficacy of cryopreserved allogeneic umbilical cord blood T-regulatory cells in artificially ventilated patients with COVID-19. The FDA-approved clinical trial will begin in the 3rd quarter of 2020.


In Ukraine, the Institute of Cell Therapy has developed a method of treatment  of COVID-19 using allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells of the umbilical cord and placenta. The safety and efficacy of cell preparations manufactured in the Ukraine’s first and only ISO-accredited Cryobank of the Institute of Cell Therapy has been previously proven in clinical trials on the treatment of osteoarthritis, critical lower limbs ischemia, acute pancreatitis, intervertebral discs hernias and keratites of infectious and neurotrophic aethiology. Since 2003, the Institute of Cell Therapy has been providing future parents with long-term storage services for perinatal tissues (umbilical cord blood, placenta, umbilical cord) in Ukraine.