Growing interest in stem cells for COVID-19 ailments, says Cynata

Stem cell therapies can treat COVID -19 complications says Cynata Therapeutics, which is in talks with potential development partners.

The Australian biotech announced it was in talks in a March R&D update, telling investors industry interest in using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to treat patients with conditions caused by severe COVID-19 infection had increasing.

CEO Ross Macdonald confirmed talks are ongoing but told us “We cannot disclose the names of any of the companies or other parties with which we are in conversations.”

Image: iStock/luchschen

He added, “Cynata has a flexible approach to partnering its technology with enterprises that have the resources, commitment and access to global markets that are all necessary to ensure effective and efficient commercialization of our unique Cymerus cell therapy products.”

A typical deal would involve Cynata granting commercialization rights in exchange for upfront, milestone and royalty payments Macdonald said, citing Cynata’s agreement with Fujifilm Corporation as an example.

Macdonald said, “Although our preference is to partner our products, we would not rule out a strategy of progressing further toward eventual commercialisation on our own.”

Technology

Cynata’s MSC Cymerus technology platform turns intermediate cells called mesenchymoangioblasts (MCAs) – which are derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) – into cell therapies.

The Victoria-headquartered firm is able to manufacture products for Phase II clinical studies, which it is doing for a planned trial assessing their use in the treatment of osteoarthritis.

COVID-19 complications

Several of Cynata’s therapies are already in preclinical development for COVID-19 related conditions.

For example, the firm says Cymerus MSCs were able to increase blood oxygen levels and lung compliance while reducing alveolar neutrophil infiltration in a preclinical model of severe pneumonia-induced sepsis.

Likewise, the candidate therapies helped protect mice against cytokine release syndrome, which is another COVID-19 complication.

In addition, Cynata recently published preclinical data that support the use of Cymerus MSCs for a range of pulmonary diseases, including asthma and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

The firm is also testing whether its therapies can be used to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome in collaboration with the Critical Care Research Group at Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane, Australia.

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