Background: Treatment options for patients with COVID-19-related acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are desperately needed. Allogeneic human umbilical cord derived mesenchymal stromal cells (hCT-MSCs) have potential therapeutic benefits in these critically ill patients, but feasibility and safety data are lacking.

Materials and methods: In this phase I multisite study, 10 patients with COVID-19-related ARDS were treated with 3 daily intravenous infusions of hCT-MSCs (1 million cells/kg, maximum dose 100 million cells). The primary endpoint assessed safety.

Results: Ten patients (7 females, 3 males; median age 62 years (range 39-79)) were enrolled at 2 sites and received a total of 30 doses of study product. The average cell dose was 0.93 cells/kg (range 0.56-1.45 cells/kg and total dose range 55-117 million cells) with 5/30 (17%) of doses lower than intended dose. Average cell viability was 85% (range 63%-99%) with all but one meeting the >70% release criteria. There were no infusion-related reactions or study-related adverse events, 28 non-serious adverse events in 3 unique patients, and 2 serious adverse events in 2 unique patients, which were expected and unrelated to the study product. Five patients died: 3 by day 28 and 5 by day 90 of the study (median 27 days, range 7-76 days). All deaths were determined to be unrelated to the hCT-MSCs.

Conclusion: We were able to collect relevant safety outcomes for the use of hCT-MSCs in patients with COVID-19-related ARDS. Future studies to explore their safety and efficacy are warranted.

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