Stem Cells and Thymosin Alpha-1 Improve Critically Ill COVID-19 Patient

March 20, 2020

From Devin Wilson, ND

The COVID-19 pandemic continues and there is currently no cure, vaccine or even an accepted treatment. Researchers all over the world are working to identify safe and effective treatment options. As such the number of registered clinical studies investigating treatments for COVID-19 in the US and China has dramatically increased since the outbreak began. Researchers from China have started investigating the use of stem cell therapy in patients with COVID-19.

Chinese researchers published a case report of a 65 year old female, critically ill with COVID-19 who received human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (hUCMSCs) after conventional treatment did not acutely improve her deteriorating health status.

While in the hospital and ICU the patient was treated with a number of different indicated drugs including antibiotics, antivirals, immune modulators, steroids, and others. In addition, the patient was intubated and a non-invasive mechanical ventilator was used in order to improve oxygenation and prevent respiratory muscle fatigue.

Interestingly, while in the ICU, she also began receiving a daily medication called thymosin alpha-1 which was used to help improve her abnormal ratio of immune cells. Thymosin alpha-1 is a peptide that is gaining attention due to its powerful anti-inflammatory and immune modulating properties. Read more on thymosin and other peptides here. However, despite using conventional medication, a ventilator and thymosin she continued to decline.

Approximately 11 days after her admission to the hospital the patient was re-evaluated and it was confirmed that she was critically ill type COVID-19 with severe pneumonia, acute respiratory disease (ARDS), multi-organ injury, moderate anemia, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, electrolyte disturbance, immunosuppression, acute gastrointestinal bleeding and other symptoms. Stem cell therapy using human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (hUCMSCs) was proposed and after gaining approval by the ethics committee of the hospital and consent from the patient and family treatment was initiated.

The patient received three intravenous treatments of hUCMSCs three days apart from each other. No obvious side effects were observed after the first treatment. After the second stem cell treatment various lab markers including bilirubin, CRP and liver enzymes were gradually reduced and white blood cell counts including specific T cell counts remarkably returned to normal levels. In addition, she was taken off the ventilator at this time due to stable blood oxygenation levels and her ability to walk.

Two days after her last IV stem cell treatment she tested negative for COVID19 and her health was significantly improving. Most of her vital signs and blood work recovered to normal levels and most recent chest CT scan showed that the pneumonia had greatly improved.

Based on this experience theauthors suggest that combined therapy of thymosin alpha-1 and hUCMSCs could greatly reduce the inflammatory response and support the recovery of anti-viral immune cells and repair damaged organs. They conclude that “hUCMSCs might be an ideal choice to be used or combined with other immune modulating agents.”


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About Ahvie Herskowitz, MD

Dr. Herskowitz’s extensive training includes a medical degree from The Albert Einstein College of Medicine, residencies in Anatomic Pathology and Internal Medicine, and Fellowship training in Cardiology at The Johns Hopkins Medical Center. During his 12 years at Johns Hopkins, he became Associate Professor of Medicine and Immunology and Molecular Microbiology and led a research team in the study of molecular and immunological mechanisms of inflammation, autoimmunity, ischemia, heart transplantation rejection and congestive heart failure.

Dr. Herskowitz’s latest academic appointment was as Clinical Professor of Medicine at UC San Francisco. To learn more about Dr. Herskowitz, you can read it bio here.


About Devin Wilson, ND

Dr. Devin Wilson is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor in the state of California. He treats an array of acute and chronic diseases using a holistic and integrative approach to health. Dr. Wilson is also a health consultant, researcher and writer focusing on anti-aging and longevity medicine including stem cell therapy and exosome therapy.

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