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Genetic Linkage

The tricky path for using stem cells to treat coronavirus-ravaged lungs

The coronavirus pandemic has unleashed a wave of repurposing efforts, from old malaria drugs prescribed off-label to anti-virals stalled in development from past scourges, like remdesivir for Ebola, SARS, and MERS. Stem cells are finding new niches too, in helping to heal the devastation the novel coronavirus can leave in its wake.

 

It's understandable in the face of such a swift killer as COVID-19 to desperately try any treatment that makes even a bit of sense. But as many experts have insisted, only a controlled clinical trial can produce reliable information on efficacy.

 

"One advantage of a randomized controlled clinical trial is that if you find something that doesn't work, you get it off the table quickly. I've been through this before in the early HIV years, when there wasn't any therapy at all. There was the tension between doing a trial and just giving someone something," said Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and unofficial guru of the pandemic, on a recent JAMA Network webinar.

 

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