Using engineered MSCs as a therapeutic drug for COVID-19 to secrete ACE2-Fc and scFv-IL6R-Fc fusion proteins 

Mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC)-based therapy is most widely used in clinics, with more than 1138 registered clinical trials until 2020. There are several potential mechanisms of MSC-based therapy, including regulation of immune and inflammatory cells, paracrine of cytokines, the release of exosomes with benefits, modulation of endoplasmic reticulum stress and attenuation of fibrosis. These properties would enable MSCs also to ameliorate ARDS due to COVID-19.

A group from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, China, etc. has proposed using engineered MSCs as a therapeutic drug for COVID-19. MSCs were engineered to secrete ACE2-Fc fusion protein and scFv-IL6R-Fc fusion protein. The former would show SARS-CoV-2 infection inhibitory effects and the latter would effectively block the IL-6 signaling pathway.
Actual clinical trials are needed to show the proposed idea to be effective as a therapy for ARDS.