Stem cell inhaler to ease COVID-19 lung symptoms being tested in Abu Dhabi

Researchers in the United Arab Emirates said Monday that they have seen "promising" results in a stem cell treatment for COVID-19 symptoms they have tested on 73 patients. If everything "went well and it worked well," Dr. Fatima al-Kaabi, head of hematology and oncology at the UAE's Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, told CNBC, the treatment could be ready for market in "three months' time."

The "minimally invasive" treatment, developed at the Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Center, involves extracting blood from patients, isolating stem cells, activating them, and turning them into a fine mist that the patient would inhale through a nebulizer or similar device, al-Kaabi said. It has helped alleviate coughing and other pulmonary symptoms, and "we've been happy that our initial safety results are promising, that's why we're heading into the next phase, of effectiveness of this treatment."

The UAE's health ministry said in a statement that the treatment "is hypothesized to have its therapeutic effect by regenerating lung cells and modulating the immune response to keep it from overreacting to the COVID-19 infection and causing further damage to healthy cells." All 73 patients, with moderate to severe symptoms, were "successfully treated and cured," the ministry said.

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