November 27, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

The COVID-19 pandemic is tearing through the country right as we are starting into the holiday season, but the wheels of science including cell biology keep going and we keep reading all the great work.

What news or papers caught your eye?

Here are some of the things I have on my list of reading. Also, check out our most-read topic here on The Niche of the last month or so in two posts here and here digging into what I see as Duke’s cord blood autism program entanglements with a for-profit stem cell clinic in Panama.

bergert cell stem cell 2020 cell mechanics
Bergert, et al. Graphical Abstract. Cell Stem Cell 2020. Impact of cell mechanics on fate.

Mesoblast COVID-19 work gets a boost via Novartis

Novartis has signed a multi-$10 million deal with Mesoblast on MSCs for COVID-19. It’s a nice thumbs up from Novartis for the promise of the Mesoblast Remestemcel-L MSC product for ARDS including COVID-19 ARDS. If things go well, the deal could go into the high $100s of millions.

This is very encouraging news. You’d imagine that Novartis went through all the data and came out upbeat.

Now I’m curious about possible developments for Athersys, another big player here. They already had ARDS data before the pandemic. Also, a number of other firms like Cynata pursuing cellular therapies for COVID could be buoyed by the news of this deal.

For Remestemcel-L and the other cellular medicine products being tested for the novel coronavirus in the end it’ll all come down to the phase 3 data. I’m hoping it’s good news on one or more products, even though I have been somewhat skeptical of the rationales here vs. steroid use.

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