UAE researchers gain IP protection for new stem-cell treatment for COVID-19, confirm success of original trial

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ABU DHABI, 8th June, 2020 (WAM) — Researchers in the UAE trialing an innovative new stem cell treatment for COVID-19 infections have secured intellectual property rights protection, opening the way for the technology to be shared widely so more patients can benefit.

A team of doctors and researchers at the Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Centre, ADSCC, led by Dr Yendry Ventura, Inventor and Principal Investigator, announced last month they had discovered a unique new treatment for patients of COVID-19, which appeared to help the body fight the virus and make the disease less harmful. The treatment involves extracting stem cells from the patient’s own blood and reintroducing them as a nebulizing mist after reactivating them.

Initial results from the treatment, administered in the UAE to 73 COVID-19 patients with moderate to severe symptoms, were promising, with all patients responding well to the treatment, demonstrating it was well-tolerated. However researchers stressed at the time that the results were preliminary and further analysis of the data was needed.

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ADSCC announced today that the results of that analysis showed the treatment was effective and safe as an add-on to standard care.

“The patients that received stem cells therapy improved faster than those who received the standard treatment only. Patients who received the stem cells treatment demonstrated clinical improvement within the first four days of treatment as evidenced by lower severity scores. The standard treatment group took eight days to show similar findings,’’ said Dr Fatema Alkaabi, Co-Principal Investigator and Specialist Hematologist at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.

“For severe patients the duration of hospitalization for those who received the stem cells treatment was six days at the median – significantly lower than among similar patients who received the standard treatment, who spent a median of 22 days in hospital.’’ Further analyses revealed that patients treated with the stem cells treatment are 3.1 times more likely to recover in less than seven days than those treated with standard therapy, and 67 percent of the patients who received the stem cells treatment owe this recovery to the new treatment.

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ADSCC also advised that the centre had secured intellectual property rights protection, including copyright and knowhow, for the treatment. This opened the way for the centre to make the details of the treatment available for others to replicate via a licensing arrangement once it had formal UAE Government approval.

Confirming the success of the treatment involved matching the data from the 73 patients in the trial to an equal number of historical controls, allowing researchers to compare the treatment outcomes.

The study measured the incidence of adverse effects, mortality rate within 28 days, and time to clinical improvement or discharge from hospital. Before treatment, a patient’s immune response profile, acute phase serum markers, and coagulation testing profile were evaluated.

Patients were excluded from the new treatment arm if they had hemoglobin levels below ten, any blood infections, a history of cancer, or received any treatment that was not part of the standard protocol such as convalescent plasma therapy. Patients below 18 years old were also excluded from the new treatment.

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ADSCC said researchers are at various stages of several investigatory efforts to establish effectiveness (Phase 3 trial), optimal efficacy of dosage, and efficacy to treat other respiratory diseases such asthma, COPD, and cystic fibrosis.

Three protection levels have been obtained: a patent on the method of harvesting (Granted by the International Centre for Patent Registration. UAE Ministry of Economy, April 30th, 2020), copyrighted works of science on treatment procedure recommendations (Copyright Certificate No. EC-01-002809), characterization of a method to harvest the stem cells (EC-01-002810), and a cell obtaining procedure (EC-01-002811), all IP-works were registered on 26th May 2020, in European organisation INTEROCO Copyright Office (Germany) with worldwide recognition in all countries – members of Berne Convention on copyright, and Know-How protection under trade secret corporate legal framework.