ARDS makes you feel like you cant breathe, like youre suffocating, said Eileen Rubin, J.D., ARDS survivor and Founder of the ARDS Foundation.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is as scary as it sounds. A person is usually sick with something else, such as the flu, COVID-19, or sepsis (a serious bloodstream bacterial infection), before they develop ARDS. Suddenly, the person has trouble breathing, is short of breath, and feels like they are suffocating. ARDS patients quickly go into respiratory distress and usually need to be put on a ventilator (and are typically put into a medically induced coma) to get them the oxygen they so desperately need.
Within about two days in the hospital, I went into respiratory arrest and was diagnosed with ARDS at age 33, Rubin explained. I spent nine weeks in the hospital, eight weeks on a ventilator, and four weeks in a medically induced coma.
Despite the seriousness of ARDS, Rubin wants those affected by the disease and their families to know there is hope. Over 50% of the almost 200,000 Americans diagnosed with ARDS each year recover and it is not a terminal illness.
ARDS patients are given the grim statistics about what is going to happen to them and how dire it is, she added. Where there is life, there is hope families should talk to their ARDS loved one if theyre in a coma, tell them the reasons they need to have hope and focus on the things they need to survive for.
This year, more people will be diagnosed with ARDS due to COVID-19. ARDS tends to develop in severely ill COVID-19 patients and is a common cause of death in these critical patients.
Rubin told BioSpace how her ARDS experience prompted her to help others by creating the ARDS Foundation. We also spoke to Gil Van Bokkelen, Ph.D., CEO of Athersys, a company developing stem cell therapy to treat ARDS, which is currently being tested in COVID-19 patients who develop ARDS.
Eileen Rubin, J.D., ARDS survivor and founder of the ARDS Foundation (left) and Gil Van Bokkelen, Ph.D., Chairman and CEO of Athersys (right). Source: Eileen Rubin and Athersys.
Eileens story: I cant breathe. I think Im dying.
It all started with lower back pain not something you think would land you in the hospital on a ventilator, fighting for your life days later.
I was suffering from excruciating lower back pain for eight days before going to my doctor, Rubin explained. They said I likely pulled a muscle, prescribed me a muscle relaxant, and sent me home.
A week later, she still felt horrible and was having difficulty breathing. She saw another doctor, who basically said the same thing and didnt order any tests, sending her home with the same muscle relaxer.
The next morning, she awoke around 5:00 a.m. with labored breathing and difficulty walking. After calling her doctor, they said they wouldnt see her again because they had just seen her yesterday. Frustrated and scared, she found another doctor who saw her later that afternoon. By then, her blood pressure was dangerously low (70/50), she had blood in her urine and she became delirious. This third doctor finally ordered bloodwork and a chest x-ray but sent her home to await the results.
She awoke very early the next morning to a phone call from the doctor telling her to go to the emergency room immediately her white blood cell count was 3.5 times higher than normal. Once in the emergency room, she saw a pulmonologist who said she would need to be ventilated if her breathing got any worse. That night, her kidneys failed. Luckily, she was stabilized, but during her second day in the hospital, she became extremely short of breath.
I said to my mother, I cant breathe. I think Im dying. And my mother ran out of the room, Rubin recounted. My mother rushed to find my internist and repeated what I had said. My internist said, Shes okay, I just saw her. Shes just anxious. My mother replied, Listen, she just said this, and I need you to come see her now. So, the doctor came in and saw me.
Upon realizing how badly Rubin was doing, her doctor cleared the room, called a code and declared that she was in respiratory arrest. Almost three hours later, her family was let back into her room, only to find her ventilated in a medically induced coma.
Unfortunately, this pain denial isnt uncommon pain that women experience is far too often downplayed, not taken seriously, or outright dismissed in healthcare.
A woman in her 30s says she has pain in her chest and is having difficulty breathing is seen totally differently than a man with the same symptoms, Rubin noted. My doctors didnt even consider doing an EKG.
After receiving many units of blood, having her lungs collapse multiple times, developing some hospital-acquired infections and having five chest tubes placed, she was sent home to slowly recover after nine weeks in the hospital. Read her entire battle with ARDS, From Trial Attorney to Life Support in Only Days, on the ARDS Foundation website.
A few years after recovering from her battle with ARDS, Rubin wanted to help other ARDS patients and their families, providing the information and support that she and her family didnt have.
When my sister went on the internet, all she got were medical articles filled with jargon and autopsy photos, Rubin commented. There was nothing positive written about ARDS, nothing that offered any support.
Rubin wanted to change that, so she created the ARDS Foundation in 2000. The foundation initially started to create a simple, easy to understand brochure for families explaining what ARDS is. Today, it is a nonprofit organization offering support, information, and awareness of ARDS to patients and families.
After ARDS, a lot of people become less outgoing, more reserved, Rubin noted. They dont feel like doing certain things and their personality changes they may suffer from anxiety, depression, or PTSD because their life is completely altered.
The foundation is also facilitating medical research to improve ARDS care and treatment.
My ARDS was treated much like it is today, with supportive therapy and ventilation there is no specific treatment for ARDS, Rubin explained. My doctors were just trying to put out all the fires that were going on while I was critically ill.
A stem cell therapy for ARDS
One company working towards an ARDS treatment is Athersys, a biotech company focusing on regenerative medicine therapies for diseases with significant unmet need. Their product, called MultiStem, is a certain type of off-the-shelf human stem cell being studied to treat a wide array of conditions, including neurological, cardiovascular, inflammatory, and immune diseases.
A vial of MultiStem cells. Source: Athersys
To make this therapy, stem cells are isolated from the bone marrow of healthy donors and separated to collect a certain population of cells called multipotent adult progenitor cells (MAPC). These specific stem cells are expanded in the lab to become MultiStem; they can be frozen for extended periods of time, ready for use when a patient needs them.
These cells have a robust and highly distinctive expansion potential material from a single donor can be used to produce millions of doses, which is well beyond the limits of other donor-derived cell types, explained Van Bokkelen.
MultiStem cells dont express molecules that would elicit a rejection response, meaning they dont require donor-recipient matching or immune suppression when being given to the patient. The cells can be used like a universal donor Type O blood product, Van Bokkelen added.
Because of the time sensitive nature of the conditions MultiStem is being used to treat (ARDS, stroke, trauma), timing is everything; being able to simply thaw ready-to-use cells and administer them to the recipient rapidly is key. Once the cells are delivered into the patient, they express a range of proteins and immune factors, giving the cells a unique drug-like profile.
Were administering living cells that are dynamically responsive to the signals and cues produced by the human body, unlike traditional pharmaceuticals or biologics that are designed to do one very specific thing, said Van Bokkelen. MultiStem is a living multifactor delivery system the cells home to sites of tissue damage and inflammation where they perform a whole series of actions.
When a virus like COVID-19 or another pathogen enters the body, the immune system becomes activated to destroy the pathogen. Sometimes, a hyperactive, over inflammatory state is triggered, which can actually be counterproductive and harmful. In fact, this cytokine storm is thought to cause ARDS in severe COVID-19 patients, resulting in the need for ventilation and frequently leading to death among seriously and critically ill individuals.
If we administer MultiStem cells to patients in this hyperinflammatory state, the cells will home to the spleen, the warehouse of activated immune cells, and calm everything down, restoring immunological homeostasis, Van Bokkelen explained. MultiStem cells dont just regulate one type of cell, they regulate a whole series of pathways that is what makes them so powerful.
Once the overactive immune response has been reigned in, the body is able to recover and heal faster, rather than spiraling out of control.
You might be thinking, If we have these stem cells inside us already, why wouldnt they do the same thing and tamp down the overactive immune response in the first place? While a person in the throws of a hyperactive immune response may have some of these specific stem cells (usually there is a very small amount in the bone marrow), they are slow to mobilize and there may not be enough to balance out the storm of activated immune cells.
If someone sustains a serious injury and theyre losing lots of blood, we give those patients a blood transfusion, Van Bokkelen posed. Its not that the body cant make red blood cells, its just that it cant do it fast enough to deal with the rapid blood loss. Similarly, we can administer MultiStem to a patient much faster than the body would be able to respond on its own, helping to get things back to where we want them to be.
A similar situation happens during a hyperactive immune response administering MultiStem to provide the body with more calming stem cells helps balance the immune response quickly to avoid damage to the patient.
Another bonus of these cells is that they have a finite half-life in the body; unlike a bone marrow transplant that replaces the bone marrow permanently, MultiStem cells are cleared over time just like other normal cells in the body.
MultiStem cells to treat COVID-19-induced ARDS
When COVID-19 appeared, the Athersys team thought MultiStem may be helpful for ARDS in COVID-19 patients because it had already been tested in ARDS animal models and clinical studies. Previously, MultiStem, delivered either intravenously or directly to the lungs (endobronchially), effectively treated ARDS in sheep alone and in conjunction with extracorporeal membrane oxygen (ECMO).
Athersys concluded a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase I/II study (MUST-ARDS) last year in 36 ARDS patients. Patients treated with MultiStem had:
Overall, the cells were well-tolerated with no serious adverse reactions within 24 hours of administration.
We saw a dramatic difference one year after patients received a single dose of MultiStem, Van Bokkelen said. We were really helping patients get on the path to recovery and get back to where they wanted to be in terms of functional independence and quality of life.
The company currently has two ongoing studies of MultiStem in ARDS patients: ONE-BRIDGE, a Phase II study in non-infection induced (pneumonitis) ARDS patients; and MACoVIA, a Fast Track designated Phase 2/3 study in COVID-19 induced ARDS patients.
ONE-BRIDGE, sponsored by HEALIOS K.K., is a randomized study aiming to enroll 35 adult participants to assess MultiStems safety and effects on ventilator-free days and various biomarkers. Enrollment is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
MACoVIA is a randomized, placebo-controlled study designed to enroll up to approximately 400 adult participants to assess MultiStems safety and tolerability in COVID-19 ARDS patients, as well as evaluate its effect on ventilator-free days and all-cause mortality. We worked with the FDA to get study approval in an accelerated timeframe of a few months we started enrolling patients in early May, added Van Bokkelen. Were hoping to complete the study sometime next year.
We welcome the progress being made by Athersys to find a solution to the huge unmet need of ARDS treatment, Rubin commented. We hope that their Phase 3 trials are completely successful because this treatment is much needed. We support all companies engaging in research on treatment options for ARDS.
Read this article:
- New Drug Could Improve Effectiveness of Stem Cell Therapy - Pain News Network - December 1st, 2020
- Hematologist/Stem Cell Biologist to Direct Hematology and Cellular Therapy at Cedars-Sinai - Newswise - December 1st, 2020
- Experimental stem cell gene therapy may give a new lease of life for patient with sickle cell disease - News-Medical.Net - December 1st, 2020
- Coronavirus Updates: The Latest Treatments and Vaccines - GovTech - December 1st, 2020
- Hematologist Discusses the Impact a Myeloma CAR T-Cell Approval Would Have on the Treatment Landscape - DocWire News - December 1st, 2020
- ONLINE: The UW Now - Isthmus - December 1st, 2020
- Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities of Harvesting CTCs - Technology Networks - December 1st, 2020
- Mustang Bio to Host Key Opinion Leader Call on MB-106 for the Treatment of Relapsed or Refractory B-Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma - GlobeNewswire - December 1st, 2020
- Celularity Announces Positive DMC Safety Review and Continuation of its Phase I/II CYNK-001-COVID-19 (CYNKCOVID) Study - PRNewswire - December 1st, 2020
- COVID-19 patients on some cancer therapies may be contagious for months: study - Reuters - December 1st, 2020
- Gain Therapeutics and University of Maryland School of Medicine Announce Research Collaboration - GlobeNewswire - December 1st, 2020
- Telix Pharmaceuticals Limited Acquires TheraPharm GmbH, Broadening Reach to Hematologic Cancers and Transplant Medicine - GlobeNewswire - November 30th, 2020
- Coronavirus treatments and vaccines. Here are the latest developments - San Francisco Chronicle - November 30th, 2020
- Stem Cell Assay Market Research Report: Industrial Chain, Sourcing Strategy and Downstream Buyers with Forecast 2026 - Cheshire Media - November 30th, 2020
- Human Embryonic Stem Cell (hESC) Market Research Report 2020 with Manufacturing Process Analysis and Market Concentration Rate till 2026 - The Market... - November 30th, 2020
- Government of Canada and JDRF Canada announce new research funding to accelerate stem cell-based therapies for type 1 diabetes - Philippine Canadian... - November 30th, 2020
- California's stem cell research agency looks to the future - Bond Buyer - November 26th, 2020
- Scientists Reveal a New Drug That Directs Stem Cells To Desired Sites - Science Times - November 26th, 2020
- Growing Value of Stem Cells in Medicine to Create a US$2,4 Billion Opportunity for Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell ((iPSC) - GlobeNewswire - November 26th, 2020
- Celularity Announces Dosing of First Patient in Phase I Study of Human Placental Hematopoietic Stem Cell-Derived Natural Killer Cells (CYNK-001) in... - November 26th, 2020
- Unexpected discovery about stem cell immortality study - News - The University of Sydney - November 26th, 2020
- 'The hope is that is works': Coliseum participates in clinical trial for COVID-19 recovery - wgxa.tv - November 26th, 2020
- Growing at an annualized rate of over 16.5%, the cell therapy manufacturing market is estimated to reach close to USD 11 Billion by 2030, claims Roots... - November 26th, 2020
- Global Cell Harvesting Market to Reach US$381,4 Million by the Year 2027 - PRNewswire - November 26th, 2020
- Novel CAR T-cell therapy shows promising early results in children with neuroblastoma - News-Medical.Net - November 26th, 2020
- Our turbulent debates on medicine and morals - The Irish Catholic - November 26th, 2020
- Impact of COVID 19 on Orthopedic Regenerative Medicine Market Detailed Research Study 2020-2027 | Curasan, Inc., Carmell Therapeutics Corporation,... - November 26th, 2020
- Novartis Invests in Stem Cell Therapy for Covid - BloombergQuint - November 20th, 2020
- California's Stem Cell Agency Will Get A Funding Boost From Prop 14. Here's A Look At Its History. - Capital Public Radio News - November 20th, 2020
- Fred Hutch at ASH: Fauci fireside chat, latest on cell therapies, repairing immune function, COVID and clots and more - Newswise - November 20th, 2020
- Study reveals how smoking worsens SARS-CoV-2 infection in the airways - UCLA Newsroom - November 20th, 2020
- SEE | Smoking worsens Covid-19 infection in the airways, new study reveals - Health24 - November 20th, 2020
- In a First, Scientists Say They've Partially Reversed a Cellular Aging Process in Humans - ScienceAlert - November 20th, 2020
- ExCellThera to establish stem cell bioproduction facility creating up to 150 jobs thanks to Government of Canada support - Canada NewsWire - November 16th, 2020
- Stanford coach's quest to save his brother: 'God, I hope this works' - Scope - November 16th, 2020
- Athersys Announces Three Appointments to Board of Directors - Business Wire - November 16th, 2020
- Stem Cell Assay Market Will Generate Massive Revenue In Future: GE Healthcare, Promega Corporation, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Merck KGaA, Cell... - November 16th, 2020
- Meeting Agenda Focuses on Increased Applications of Cellular Therapies in Hematologic Cancers - Targeted Oncology - November 16th, 2020
- Leading Human Immunology and Infectious Disease Experts to Join UM School of Medicines Institute of Human Virology - Newswise - November 16th, 2020
- Stem cell therapy shows promise in treating COVID-19 - The Pharma Letter - November 11th, 2020
- FibroGenesis Announces the Filing of its 250th Patent for Fibroblast Cell Therapy Platform - PRNewswire - November 11th, 2020
- Angiocrine Bioscience Announces FDA Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy (RMAT) Designation Granted to AB-205 (Universal E-CEL Cell Therapy) to... - November 11th, 2020
- Global Live Cell Imaging Markets, 2020-2025 - Growing Adoption of High-Content Screening Techniques in Drug Discovery - Yahoo Finance UK - November 11th, 2020
- Protective protein could help keep blood young and healthy - New Atlas - November 10th, 2020
- Worldwide Regenerative Medicine Industry to 2025 - Featuring Allergan, Amgen and Baxter International Among Others - PRNewswire - November 10th, 2020
- Dr. Braunschweig on Selecting Between Transplant and CAR T-Cell Therapy in DLBCL - OncLive - November 8th, 2020
- Global Regenerative Medicine Market (2020 to 2025) - Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast - ResearchAndMarkets.com -... - November 8th, 2020
- Editas Medicine Announces Third Quarter 2020 Results and Update - GlobeNewswire - November 8th, 2020
- Using telehealth to boost treatment for substance-use disorder - American Medical Association - November 4th, 2020
- Stem Cell and Regenerative Therapy Market Monitoring Growth Opportunities 2024 - Aerospace Journal - November 4th, 2020
- Regenerative Medicine Stem Cells Market Forecast Revised in a New FMI Report as COVID-19 Projected to Hold a Massive Impact on Sales in 2019 - KYT24 - November 4th, 2020
- Global Stem Cell Assay Market Growth, Size, Analysis, Outlook by 2020 Trends, Opportunities and Forecast to 2025 - Zenit News - November 4th, 2020
- Asia Pacific Cartilage Degeneration Market Forecast to 2027 - COVID-19 Impact and Regional Analysis By Procedure Type ; Application ; and End User and... - November 4th, 2020
- Asia Pacific Amniotic Membrane Market Forecast to 2027 - COVID-19 Impact and Regional Analysis By Enzyme ; Application ; End User, and Country -... - November 4th, 2020
- Minaris Regenerative Medicine to Significantly Expand Manufacturing Capacity for Cell and Gene Therapies in Germany and Japan - b3c newswire - November 2nd, 2020
- What Are the Treatment Options When Lymphoma Returns? - SurvivorNet - November 2nd, 2020
- Cell Banking Outsourcing Market: High Demand for Stem Cell Therapies to Trigger Growth of the Market - BioSpace - November 2nd, 2020
- How pain changes your brain - News - The University of Sydney - November 2nd, 2020
- Optimal Health: Cutting Edge Restorative Treatments Cityview - Knoxville City View - November 2nd, 2020
- New screening tool could turn up genes tied to developmental disorders - STAT - October 31st, 2020
- Outlook on the Regenerative Medicine Global Market to 2025 - Impact of COVID-19 on the Market - GlobeNewswire - October 31st, 2020
- Opinion: Proposition 14 Could Save the Life of Someone You Love - Times of San Diego - October 31st, 2020
- "Training" the immune system with -glucan compound may improve immune recovery - News-Medical.Net - October 31st, 2020
- Angelika Amon, cell biologist who pioneered research on chromosome imbalance, dies at 53 - MIT News - October 31st, 2020
- Novartis expands Kymriah manufacturing footprint with first-ever approved site for commercial CAR-T cell therapy manufacturing in Asia - GlobeNewswire - October 31st, 2020
- Global Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) Market 2020 with COVID-19 After Effects Growth Drivers, Top Key Players, Industry Segments and Forecast... - October 29th, 2020
- Ways to cash in on regenerative medicine - The Australian Financial Review - October 29th, 2020
- We can't stand idly by: Vote 'yes' on Prop. 14 for stem cell research - The Jewish News of Northern California - October 29th, 2020
- Grant programs will provide $2.2 million to support biomedical research on healthy aging - News-Medical.Net - October 29th, 2020
- NK Cell Therapy and Stem Cell Therapy Market Insight | Strategic Industry Evolutionary Analysis Focus on Leading Key Players and Revenue Growth... - October 29th, 2020
- Baby Gets Early Stem Cell Transplant to Treat Rare Disease Thanks to Newborn Screening - University of Michigan Health System News - October 28th, 2020
- Exclusive: "Ending Disease" Documentary Explores How Stem Cell Therapy Aims to Cure the Incurable - Prevention.com - October 28th, 2020
- A New Piece Added to the Pituitary Gland Puzzle Revises Evolutionary History - Technology Networks - October 28th, 2020
- Proposition 14 Aims to Keep California at Worldwide Center of Stem Cell Research - Times of San Diego - October 18th, 2020
- Should California invest $5.5 billion more into promising stem cell research? - The Mercury News - October 14th, 2020
- Singapore invents digitized optimization of culture conditions for cell therapy - BSA bureau - October 14th, 2020
- Pluristem Announces Clearance to Move Forward with Enrollment for Cohort II in an Investigator-Led Phase I/II Chronic Graft vs Host Disease... - October 14th, 2020
- Marcus Neuroscience Institute names Khalid A. Hanafy, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Director of Neurocritical Care and Research - Baptist Health South Florida - October 14th, 2020
- Fact check: Trump's antibody therapy not made from fetal stem cells but fetal-derived cells used during testing - USA TODAY - October 12th, 2020
- Brain organoids reveal neuronal flaws in syndrome tied to autism - Spectrum - October 12th, 2020