Stem cell therapy for COVID-19: Possibilities and challenges

Mahmood S. Choudhery, David T. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Since its eruption in China, novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been reported in most of the countries and territories (>200) of the world with ∼18 million confirmed cases (as of August 3, 2020). In most of the countries, COVID-19 upsurge is uncontrolled with a significant mortality rate. Currently, no treatment effective for COVID-19 is available in the form of vaccines or antiviral drugs and patients are currently treated symptomatically. Although the majority of the patients develop mild symptoms and recover without mechanical ventilation for respiratory management, severe respiratory illness develops in a significant portion of affected patients and may result in death. While the scientific community is working to develop vaccines and drugs against the COVID-19 pandemic, novel alternative therapies may reduce the mortality rate. Recent use of stem cells for critically ill COVID-19 patients in a small group of patients in China and subsequent Emergency Use Authorization of stem cells by Food and Drug Administration to Global Institute of Stem Cell Therapy and Research and Athersys has created excitement among the medical community. As a result, several clinical trials have been registered using stem cells for COVID-19 treatment that aim to use different cell sources, dosage, and importantly diverse targeted patient groups. In this brief review, the possibilities of stem cell use in COVID-19 patients and relevant challenges in their use have been discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2182-2191
Number of pages10
JournalCell Biology International
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • COVID-19
  • acellular therapy
  • coronavirus
  • mesenchymal stem cells
  • pandemic
  • stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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