Cell therapy treatment mooted as potential way to beat coronavirus
A group of scientists are reportedly in talks with the Government on a potential treatment for the coronavirus using immune cells from young and healthy volunteers.
Researchers from TC Biopharm near Glasgow, responsible for cloning Dolly the Sheep, have used the new therapy – which uses immunity-building cell transfusions – to successfully treat cancer.
They are now hoping it will also work against the coronavirus, and are in talks with the Government to trial the therapy for that purpose, the Daily Telegraph reports.
It is hoped the treatment will be made available in NHS hospitals by July.
Dr Brian Kelly, senior strategic medical adviser to TC Biopharm, told the paper: “One of the key challenges of fighting viral infection is to develop something that is going to attack the infected cells and not the normal cells.
“So the solution that we came up with was to look at the body’s natural defences to viral infection.
“In patients who have successfully fought a viral infection, they have expanded their own immune system and that persists after that to stop them becoming infected again.”
The donor T-cells differ from normal immune cells as they do not identify invaders in the body based on alien protrusions on the surface of cells, but by detecting the unusual metabolism of viruses.
When the donor cells do detect a virus, they begin to destroy while also signalling it to the rest of the immune system as an alien intrusion requiring eradication.
Dr Kelly said with this approach, even if the virus mutated and returned to a body, the infusion exercise could be repeated and would still work.
TC Biopharm was founded by Angela Scott, who was part of the team who cloned Dolly the Sheep in Edinburgh in 1996.