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Longeveron's Novel Therapy Looks to Tackle COVID-19, Flu-Related ARDS

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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Now more than ever, regenerative medicine companies like Mesoblast (NASDAQ: MESO), Celularity (NASDAQ: CELU), Athersys (NASDAQ: ATHX), and Pluristem Therapeutics (NASDAQ: PSTI) are among others that understand the importance of creating new, effective pharmaceutical critical care products for unmet needs—especially in a post-pandemic world.

Among the most vulnerable patients in the COVID-19 pandemic were undoubtedly elderly sufferers, whose multiple risk factors contributed to sky-high mortality rates. However, it wasn’t only the virus that attacked this demographic but a little-known syndrome as well.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) has been in the spotlight recently due to its link to pandemic-related illnesses, but the syndrome can also affect those who have suffered other viruses like influenza. ARDS is a lung condition that causes low oxygen blood levels and a fluid build up in the lungs, resulting in shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or organ failure — which can turn fatal quickly.

According to one study in the Taylor and Francis Public Health Emergency Collection, ARDS was one of top causes of death in COVID-19 patients. Out of 10,815 ARDS cases, patients experienced a 39% overall mortality rate. In addition, outside of COVID-19, a staggering 150,000 people contract ARDS in the U.S. yearly, with a 40% mortality rate. Even if a patient survives ARDS, they are met with a variety of short-term and long-term adverse effects, including lung scarring, cognitive impairment and muscular issues.

Unfortunately there are limited treatment options for ARDS, relying on more supportive care tactics like ventilators or medications that are subpar. However, biotechnology company Longeveron Inc. (NASDAQ: LGVN) is trying to tackle this unmet medical need by developing allogeneic cell therapy to potentially treat ARDS.

Allogeneic cell therapy uses specialized living cells called Medicinal Signaling Cells (MSCs) that can be isolated from various donor tissues. At Longeveron, MSCs are isolated from fresh bone marrow donated by healthy, young adults. The MSCs replicate into the billions using a special process called culture-expansion. The cell population is then harvested into individual doses (e.g. 100 million cells), and cryopreserved for future use, resulting in Longeveron’s investigational therapeutic candidate known as Lomecel-B™. Even though Lomecel-B is made from donor cells, because of special properties of the cell, it can be infused or injected into a patient without a harmful immune response, making Lomecel-B an “off-the-shelf” product.

The Phase 1 trial is a multicenter, double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled study to test the safety and efficacy of Lomecel-B in adults suffering from ARDS due to either COVID-19 or influenza. The hope is that this cell therapy approach could decrease the need for invasive mechanical ventilation, and for those already on ventilators, to speed up the recovery and improve survival. Should this work, it could ultimately expand the treatment options for ARDS, which remain limited.

Longeveron has been in the process of developing cellular therapies for chronic diseases for a while, thanks to their driving philosophy that healthy aging can be achieved through regenerative medicine. Longeveron’s lead therapeutic candidate Lomecel-B, is being tested in 4 additional clinical research programs, including Alzheimer’s disease, aging frailty, metabolic syndrome, and hypoplastic left heart syndrome (a rare congenital heart defect in children).

Longeveron believes that its cells, which already work daily to repair and regenerate damaged tissues and organs, can be used to address some of the most complex medical issues associated with the aging process. If it's right, the key to solving these medical mysteries could quite literally be inside of us all.

To learn more about how you can get involved in one of the clinical trials being undertaken by Longeveron, visit longeveron.com. Additional information regarding Longeveron may also be obtained through their filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which are accessible on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.

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