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  • Stem cell specialist Mesoblast (MSB) has revealed encouraging results from a Phase II trial of its remestemcel-L product in treating lung disease
  • The company was testing the product’s ability to treat patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • The trial showed that remestemcel-L was able to bring about improved respiratory and functional outcomes to patients
  • Importantly, those treated with the product were able to walk 55 metres further in a six-minute walk test than those who weren’t
  • Mesoblast is testing the same product for treating patients who develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) from COVID-19
  • Shares in Mesoblast are currently trading 0.63 per cent lower and worth $3.98 each

Stem cell specialist Mesoblast (MSB) has reported encouraging results from a Phase II trial of its remestemcel-L product in treating lung disease.

Under the trial, 60 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were tested against a placebo control group to monitor the efficacy of remestemcel-L.

COPD refers to a group of lung diseases that all block airflow and make it difficult to breathe. Conditions such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis fall under the COPD umbrella.

Remestemcel-L was proven to bring about “improved respiratory and functional outcomes” to patients tested under the trial.

Stem cell speciality

Mesoblast’s product is based on mesenchymal stem cells, or MSCs. These are an adult stem cell generally extracted from bone marrow.

The treatment was initially developed to treat a rare condition known as acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in which the body rejects bone marrow transplants.

The product is already for sale under the brand name Ryoncil in Japan.

In March, Mesoblast told shareholders it would be testing the product against COVID-19 patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) based on its previously-proven ability to treat COPD.

Today, this was further reaffirmed.

Lung improvement

According to Mesoblast, the Phase II trial showed that remestemcel-L significantly improved respiratory and functional clinical outcomes in patients with high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP).

This is a type of protein made by the liver and secreted into the blood and is often the first sign of inflammation or infection in the body.

Mesoblast said significantly higher levels of CRP can result in hospitalisation and even death in patients with COPD. High CRP levels are common with many different types of lung diseases.

Mesoblast’s study showed that the greater the degree of inflammation from heightened CRP levels, the better remestemcel-L was at improving lung condition.

Importantly, patients with the highest level of CRP in their bodies were able to walk 55 metres further in a six-minute walk test after being treated with remestemcel-L than those treated with the placebo.

Further, no toxicity or safety concerns were revealed using the treatment.

COVID-19 treatment support

Mesoblast Chief Medical Officer Dr Fred Grossman said today’s results provide a “compelling rationale” for the evaluation of a current Phase III trial in the US for treating patients with COVID-19 ARDS.

“The correlation between highest CRP levels and greatest degree of response to remestemcel-L suggests that the inflammatory component of the lung disease may trigger and be amenable to the immunomodulatory effects of treatment with remestemcel-L in patients with acute inflammatory conditions,” Dr Fred explained.

“Since recurrent hospitalization rates and mortality in COPD are associated with both high levels of CRP and progressive decline in the six-minute walk test, these results suggest that remestemcel-L could provide longer-term benefits for COPD patients with high levels of inflammation,” he said.

Shares in Mesoblast have had a rollercoaster of a day, dancing between red and green several times within the first hour of trade. As at 11:50 am AEST, company shares are down 0.63 per cent and trading for $3.98 each.

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