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ASX stock of the day: This ASX healthcare share jumped 13% today as it commenced trials of its COVID-19 treatment

The Mesoblast Limited (ASX: MSB) share price is up more than 13% today after the healthcare company announced the first patients had been dosed in a trial of its COVID-19 treatment. The Phase 2/3 trial is taking place in the United States to test Mesoblast’s remestemcel-L treatment. 

Who is Mesoblast?

Mesoblast develops allogeneic (off-the-shelf) cellular medicines to treat inflammatory diseases. The company has leveraged its proprietary mesenchymal cell therapy technology to establish a broad portfolio of commercial products and late-stage product candidates. Mesenchymal stem cells can differentiate into a variety of cell types including bone, cartridge, and muscle cells. 

What is the treatment?

Mesoblast’s remestemcel-L medicine is being used to treat COVID-19 infected patients with moderate to severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) who are on ventilator support. Promising results were received under an initial trial of the treatment at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. 

Remestemcel-L is being developed for various inflammatory conditions, including acute graft versus host disease. It is believed to counteract inflammatory processes by down-regulating the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, increasing production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, and enabling recruitment of anti-inflammatory cells to involved tissues. 

Clinical trials

Mesoblast is conducting a clinical trial of remestemcel-L with 300 ventilator-dependent patients in intensive care. Patients will receive either remestemcel-L or a placebo, on top of maximal care. The efficacy of the treatment will be assessed according to survival rates and the number of days alive and off medical support. 

The trial will take place at 30 sites across North America. Enrollment in the trial is expected to be completed within 3 to 4 months. Interim analyses are planned which could result in stopping the trial early. 

Dr Moskowitz, who is overseeing the trial, said, “this rapid mobilization of major medical centres across the United States reflects the urgent need to treat the very large numbers of people in hospital intensive care units suffering with COVID-19 ARDS and requiring ventilation. We expect quick enrollment in this trial to determine whether remestemcel-L can reduce mortality in these patients.”

Foolish takeaway

Mesoblast has an early prospect for treating COVID-19 which could prove lucrative if clinical trials are successful. On the back of key announcements relating to this trial, the Mesoblast share price has rocketed 167% higher since the beginning of April.

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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