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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Multiple Sclerosis - What you should know

Are people with Multiple Sclerosis more prone to severe Coronavirus related illness? Having a compromised immune system could potentially increase one’s risk of developing severe Coronavirus symptoms. This article aims to answer this question as well as describe the actions MS patients should take to mitigate risk.

Reading time: About 5 minues

David Lyons

Guest contributor

Mar 26, 2020

Louis A. Cona, MD

Medical Director of DVC Stem

Stem cell therapy clinic in Grand Cayman

Updated:

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Are people with Multiple Sclerosis more prone to severe Coronavirus related illness? Having a compromised immune system could potentially increase one’s risk of developing severe Coronavirus symptoms. This article aims to answer this question as well as describe the actions MS patients should take to mitigate risk.

Coronavirus advice for people with MS

The World Health Organization states that while we are still learning about COVID-19, we do know that certain portions of the population are at a higher risk of developing a severe illness than others.


These people include:

  • The elderly
  • People with pre-existing medical conditions such as; high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer, diabetes
  • People with compromised immune systems


If you have a weak immune system, you could be at a higher risk.

Having a compromised immune system could potentially increase one’s risk of developing severe Coronavirus symptoms. Many factors could cause a weak immune system these include:


  • Taking immunosuppressants
  • Cancer treatments (Radiation, Chemotherapy)
  • Specific therapies for Autoimmune diseases for Multiple Sclerosis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus  
  • Serious infections such as HIV
  • Organ transplants


Coronavirus has a more significant potential to damage the lungs of people who have weakened immune systems. This damage happens because the virus can infect our immune cells and create confusion.  

Our immune systems are generally in place to keep our bodies healthy by protecting our cells from invaders, such as harmful bacterias.  However, when our immune system is not appropriately regulated, it can cause more harm than good. This phenomenon is typically seen in people with autoimmune diseases and can produce large amounts of inflammation within the body.

Coronavirus causes infected immune cells to overreact and start destroying healthy cells within the lungs.  Over time this can lead to the destruction of the protective cell layer within our lungs.  This destruction can lead to an increased susceptibility to harmful bacterias that can cause pneumonia. 


So, what is a Coronavirus?

According to the World Health Organization, a Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that causes illness in both animals and humans.  In humans, several Coronaviruses cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as SARS and COVID-19.  The video below does an excellent job of explaining the impact of COVID-19 in detail. (1)


What is COVID-19?

“COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered Coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.” - The World Health Organization (1)


What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

According to the World Health Organization, the most prevalent symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, fatigue, and dry cough. 

Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. 

Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. About one out of every six people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. 

Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop severe illness. Somebody with a temperature, cough, and trouble breathing should solicit medical attention. (1)


Advice for people with Multiple Sclerosis

People with underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or persons over the age of 60 are at an increased risk of developing severe illness due to COVID-19.  This group can include people living with Multiple Sclerosis, especially ones that are currently taking immunosuppressants. Some common immunosuppressives include but are not limited to Calcineurin Inhibitors, Tacrolimus and Cyclosporine Antiproliferative agents, Mycophenolate Mofetil, Mycophenolate Sodium, and Azathioprine.


All persons with Multiple Sclerosis should be advised to take extra precaution and follow more stringent social distancing and cleanliness rituals to ensure their chance of contracting COVID-19 is reduced.


According to the World Health Organization, you should follow these guidelines to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19.


  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose & mouth unless your hands are clean
  • Try to keep at least 1-meter distance between yourself and others, particularly those who are coughing and sneezing
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue
  • Practice food safety by using different chopping boards for raw meat and cooked foods and wash your hands between handling them


Also, the MS International Federation recommends that people with MS should take the following extra precautions (2):


  • Avoid public gatherings and crowds
  • Avoid using public transport where possible
  • Where possible, use alternatives to face-to-face routine medical appointments (for example, telephone appointments).


Advice regarding MS medications

People who are taking Disease-Modifying Therapies for MS should take extra precautions, especially those that may affect the immune system.  People taking these therapies mustn’t stop without speaking with their physician first.  Patients should make sure to call their neurologist or physician rather than going into their clinic.  It may even be possible to schedule a telemedicine appointment so that advice can be given from the comfort of your own home.


Stem cells may be able to help the body resist Coronavirus.

Firstly, stem cells combat viral attack by the expression of specific genes known as interferon-gamma stimulated genes (ISGs). These are expressed in stem cells before their differentiation. (Wu, X, et al., Cell 172: 423, 2018). 


Hence, stem cells are expected to survive even if transplanted into a patient with an active Coronavirus infection. Also, it is known that stem cells rejuvenate and regenerate cells in the body through various processes involving reduction of inflammation, secretion of substances that protect cells, transfer of mitochondria, reduction of cell death, anti-oxidative effects and improvement of immune system function. These effects are likely to increase survival in patients infected with Coronavirus. Also, there is direct evidence of stem cell protection against viral infection. Influenza virus A/H5N1 causes acute lung injury that was reduced by human mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) in mice, and the treatment increased survival (Chan et al., PNAS 113:3621, 2016).

Vitro Biopharma has operated a highly regulated, FDA-compliant commercial biologics manufacturing facility for several years and is cGMP compliant, ISO9001 Certified, ISO13485 Certified, CLIA Certified and FDA registered. All clinical manufacturing occurs in a certified sterile clean room with extensive and advanced testing to assure the absence of contamination. 

Furthermore, in numerous patients treated to date by IV infusion of their Mesenchymal Stem Cells, there have been no significant adverse events while we have gained evidence of efficacy. 

Dr. Jim Musick, CEO of Vitro Biopharma, states:

“We presently supply our Mesenchymal Stem Cells to DVC Stem in the Cayman Islands for treatment of inflammatory conditions. We are pleased to be positioned to offer stem cell therapy for Coronavirus infection. While there are several factors related to the possible extent of this global infection, stem cell therapy represents a therapeutic option to fight the virus and increase survival, while effective vaccines are being developed. Our existing offshore partners offer stem cell transplant services, and we are in contact with CDC officials regarding potential US-based stem cell transplants into infected individuals.”

References:

(1) Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

(2) The coronavirus and MS – global advice. (2020, March 24). Retrieved from https://www.msif.org/news/2020/02/10/the-coronavirus-and-ms-what-you-need-to-know/

(3) Wu, X., Dao Thi, V. L., Huang, Y., Billerbeck, E., Saha, D., Hoffmann, H.-H., … Rice, C. M. (2018, January 25). Intrinsic Immunity Shapes Viral Resistance of Stem Cells. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29249360

"Dr. Cona is a leading edge stem cell treatment physician"

Matthew Murry - MS Patient

2 DAYS POST TREATMENT

"Is the video I posted from this morning! My speech is so easy for me now, got easier throughout the day! I can talk like a NYer (fast) for the first time in years! Praise God!"

- Matthew Murry

EXCITING IMPROVEMENTS

Only 3 days after treatment, Matthew is now able to touch his nose with his eyes closed as well as touch his thumb and pinky together. Both of which he was previously unable to do before treatment.

We are excited to see his continued progress. His story will be updated here so keep an eye out!

Matthew showing his progress with mobility

Matthew Murry - 3 days post treatment

"This is exciting stuff, god bless"

Matthew Murry - MS Patient

2 WEEKS POST TREATMENT

Matthew experiences sensation in the bottom of his feet after receiving a simple nerve test.

His left foot did not experience any sensation or move at all, but what happened to his right foot is extremely exciting!

50 DAYS POST TREATMENT

Matthew is now able to lift his leg unassisted. He was previously unable to do so.

Matthew is experiencing the benefits of stem cell therapy first hand. You can view his progress video here.


Matthew showing some amazing mobility improvements.

Matthew Murry - 50 days post treatment

"Amazing progress from one of our MS patients Matthew Murray"

Louis A. Cona, MD - DVC Stem

3 MONTHS POST TREATMENT

Matthew is able to stand up with the assistance of stability bars.

David Lyons

Multiple Sclerosis

Although David Lyons was able to successfully fight Multiple Sclerosis through a strict regimen of diet and exercise, he wanted to ensure he was doing everything he could to stay fit. Multiple Sclerosis can be managed with treatment, but there is currently no cure for the disease. For that reason, David came to DVC Stem years ago to use the regenerative and anti-inflammatory attributes of stem cells to aid in his fight for fitness.

The positive results he experienced enabled David to stay strong in the gym, now into his 60s, and that is why he continues to support our clinic to this day.

Are you a candidate?

Complete our online application form to find out if you qualify for stem cell therapy.

APPLY FOR TREATMENT

About Our Medical DIrector

Louis A. Cona, MD

LOUIS A. CONA, MD

Dr. Cona has been performing stem cell therapy for over 10 years. He is a member of the World Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (WAAAM). He is also a recognized member of the British Medical Association, the General Medical Council (UK), the Caribbean College of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. He is the Medical Director for DVC Stem a world-renowned stem cell therapy clinic located in Grand Cayman.

Are you a candidate?

Complete our online application form to find out if you qualify for stem cell therapy.

APPLY FOR TREATMENT

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