Corona Virus and Regenerative Medicine
The pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused changes to daily lives throughout the world. These changes have led to an urgency for new drugs and vaccines. First, however, these treatments must pass clinical trials that confirm their safety and efficacy against the virus according to the standards of each country. Global efforts are being made to find these new treatments, but if we follow national protocols, we should expect some time before any reliable treatments become available.
One way to hurry treatment is with the off-label use of approved drugs. One example is favipiravir, which is used to treat influenza, but we still do not know its effectiveness against COVID-19. A clinical trial for favipiravir is underway in Japan. Another drug is remdesivir. This is an antiviral drug that has been tested for Ebola.
One outstanding worry about the urgency for a COVID-19 treatment is organizations promoting unproven products. This concern is very strong in the world of regenerative medicine, where unproven stem cell products are regularly advertised. The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), which represents the largest community of academic stem cell researchers, has made a statement about unproven stem cell products for COVID-19 (ISSCR Statement Regarding the Marketing of Unproven Stem Cell Treatments for COVID-19). We have contributed to informing the public about unproven stem cell therapies by translating the ISSCR Informed Consent Standard for Stem Cell-Based Interventions Offered Outside of Formal Clinical Trials (ISSCR Informed Consent Standard for Stem Cell-Based Interventions Offered Outside of Formal Clinical Trial).