Article updated on:
February 7, 2023
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DVC Stem patient Matthew Murry has shared a video where he states that his previous stem cell therapy played a crucial role in helping him overcome COVID-19.
Matthew initially visited DVC Stem back in October 2019 for an infusion of 300 million cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Matthew was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2005. MS, typically characterized by damage throughout the brain and spinal cord, can be detrimental towards strength, balance, coordination, and mobility. Multiple Sclerosis may also make one more susceptible to further complications that may arise from viral infections.
COVID-19 would typically have a more substantial impact on people with MS. This is because illness, infection, or particularly a fever, can cause a temporary flare-up of symptoms, known as a pseudo exacerbation.
According to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America
"A pseudo exacerbation is a temporary worsening of symptoms without actual myelin inflammation or damage, brought on by other influences. Once the illness, infection, or fever is resolved, the flare-up will usually remit within 24 hours."
Matthew unfortunately contracted COVID-19 in April 2020, but did not experience any significantly debilitating symptoms, while some of his family members did exhibit harsher symptoms. He believes the stem cell infusion gave his body the tools to easily overcome the virus while at the same time keeping his MS symptoms in check.
Mesenchymal Stem cells may be able to help the body resist COVID-19.
Evidence shows that 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.
In addition to combating inflammation in the lung tissue, reducing the strength of symptoms, stem cell therapy can aid in modulating the immune system. In many ways, COVID-19 causes a response in the body similar to an autoimmune disease. By preventing the body from over-responding to the COVID-19 virus, stem cell therapy can prevent additional harm done to the body during the viral response.
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 reduced by human mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) in mice, and the treatment increased survival (Chan et al., PNAS 113:3621, 2016).
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.
The data is beginning to show that stem cells may play a key role in the prevention and management of certain infection related symptoms. Stem cell therapy may be able to modulate the immune system in such a way that gives MS patients increased resistance to COVID-19. Not only are the effects of mesenchymal stem cell therapy increasing likelihood of survival in COVID-19 patients, treatment is also showing promise as a preventative coronavirus treatment. According to Matthew his COVID-19 symptoms were manageable and less pervasive than some of his other healthy family members that did not have MS.
(1) Coronavirus. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
(2) Chan, M. C. W., Kuok, D. I. T., Leung, C. Y. H., Hui, K. P. Y., Valkenburg, S. A., Lau, E. H. Y., … Peiris, J. S. M. (2016, March 29). Human mesenchymal stromal cells reduce influenza A H5N1-associated acute lung injury in vitro and in vivo. Retrieved from https://www.pnas.org/content/113/13/3621
(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
(4) Hendin, B., MD. (2020, March 25). The Coronavirus and MS: What You Need to Know. Retrieved July 23, 2020, from https://mymsaa.org/news/the-coronavirus-and-ms-what-you-need-to-know/