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Why this ASX healthcare share has rocketed 260% in a month

The Mesoblast Limited (ASX: MSB) share price is up 46% today on hopes the company’s treatment can cure coronavirus. Last week, the regenerative medicine company reported strong results for coronavirus patients treated with its cell therapy remestemcel-L. 

Shares soar as treatment reveals promising results 

While the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) is up around 20% since its low on 23 March, Mesoblast shares are up 260%. Mesoblast uses a cell technology platform to develop treatments for diseases that are resistant to conventional standards of care.

Last week, Mesoblast reported 83% survival in ventilator-dependent coronavirus patients with moderate/severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) who were treated with its cell therapy. Sadly, this compares to a 12% survival rate for ventilator-dependent coronavirus patients with ARDS who were given standard care in a major New York hospital network. 

75% of patients who received Mesoblast’s treatment successfully came off ventilator support in a median of 10 days. By contrast, just 9% of patients were able to come off ventilator support when treated with standard drugs during March/April. 

Mesoblast Chief Executive Silviu Itescu said, “the remarkable clinical outcomes in these critically ill patients continue to underscore the potential benefits of remestemcel-L as an anti-inflammatory agent.”

Further trials planned 

Mesoblast’s treatment was made available to patients under an emergency Investigational New Drug (INA) application at New York City’s Mt Sinai hospital. Plans are afoot to rapidly complete a phase 2/3 trial in coronavirus patients with ARDS. This placebo-controlled trial will seek to confirm that Mesoblast’s remestemcel-L improves survival in critically ill patients. 

Mesoblast’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Fred Grossman said, “there is a significant need to improve the dismal survival outcomes in COVID-19 patients who progress to ARDS and require ventilators. We have implemented robust statistical analyses . . . in order to maximize our ability to evaluate whether remestemcel-L provides a survival benefit in moderate/severe COVID-19 ARDS.”

Mesoblast’s cellular medicines 

Mesoblast develops off-the-shelf cellular medicines. Its product candidates are based on rare cells that respond to tissue damage, promoting tissue repair and modulating immune responses. Cells are collected from the bone marrow of healthy adult donors. Mesoblast then processes and expands the cells to create a reproducible cell population. 

This allows for manufacturing at an industrial scale for commercial purposes. Cells can then be administered to patients without needing to match with the donor or suppress the recipient’s immune response. 

Approval from the US Food and Drug Administration is being sought for the use of remestemcel-L to treat acute graft versus host disease. Remestemcel-L is also being developed for other rare diseases. Mesoblast is in Phase 3 trials for its product candidates for advanced heart failure and chronic diseases. 

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Motley Fool contributor Kate O'Brien has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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Kate O'Brien