Disclaimer: The safety and scientific validity of the below studies is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. These studies have not been evaluated and are not endorsed by LifeCell International Pvt. Ltd.

Cord blood stem cells have been used since decades for the treatment of more than 80 blood conditions and are also currently being explored in a clinical setting to treat several regressive diseases. The cord blood contains several types of cells including natural killer (NK) cells, which exhibit unique properties that help in targeting virus-infected cells. Of late, with the sudden outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus or COVID-19, the need for an “off-the-shelf” treatment that the patients can have quick access to has increased.

MD Anderson Cancer Center in the US has recently begun targeting the study of NK cells. The researchers there are isolating these fighter cells from the extracted cord blood and using them in their original form and also developing them into a CAR-NK cell product. The unknown potential of the stored cord blood is being continually stressed owing to the advancements of NK cell therapy. Let us now divulge a little deeper into cord-blood-derived NK cells and see how they have the potential to play a significant role in the innovative treatment of some prevalent conditions at present.

NK Cells Assists in the Treatment of Viruses in Clinical Trials

NK cells are currently being studied for their role in the treatment of certain viruses. It is no secret that an individual’s immunity significantly impacts one’s ability when it comes to fighting off infectious diseases. Thus, there seems to be a growing interest in finding new methods that act as adoptive cellular therapies to address the health of individuals who are immunocompromised.

Individuals with relatively lower immunity, along with recent recipients of stem cell transplants, are at a higher risk of confronting complications by viral, bacterial, or fungal pathogens. Research indicates that NK cells can directly destruct their target via mediated apoptosis and cytotoxic molecules. Similarly, these cells can also alter an affected individual’s immune response to aid in fighting against foreign bodies.


A study published in the Oncotarget Journal elaborates on this point by suggesting, “a number of studies have demonstrated that genetic mutations may lead to reduced NK cell numbers or functional NK cell impairment such as mutations affecting genes IL2RG, JAK3, and ADA which cause severe combined immunodeficiency syndromes.” The proposed evidence that several mechanisms activate NK cells during infection is even more interesting. The mechanisms are listed as the influenza nucleoprotein (NP) matrix 1 (M1) antibodies and CD16 that impact the early activation of NK cells post the flu vaccine. Following infection with the influenza virus, NK cells continue to act as innate effectors that adapt to the antiviral responses. Clinical studies on humans and animals are still underway to illustrate that NK cells play a key role in antimicrobial immunotherapy.

Role of Stem Cells in Treating COVID-19

Therefore, in view of the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases, the role of NK cells as a potential to combat other types of viruses has been a discussion among many. Our Technology partner, CryoCell International Inc., USA, has also made similar observations.

MD Anderson Cancer Center has been conducting a Phase ll study to determine the effectiveness of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), found in umbilical cord cells, for the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in combination with therapeutic drugs. MSCs derived from cord cells have many therapeutic functions and the same has been explained in many research studies as well. In one such study, umbilical cord-derived MSCs from allogeneic donors are currently being analysed to explore their function in reducing inflammation and their effect on tissue regeneration.


In one of the most recent articles on the matter published in The Lancet, it is pointed out that “The isolation and short-term expansion of anti-viral directed T cells has been proven to be a life-saving procedure in patients after autologous hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation with cytomegalovirus infection. Expansion of anti-2019-nCoV-specific T cells, as cellular drugs, could aid to prepare T-cell products for the adjunct treatment of patients with severe 2019-nCoV infection.” The animal studies carried out in mice implies the potential of NK cells in the treatment of infectious diseases. Given all the information we have in hand about NK cells, they continue to look like a safer and more effective alternative as compared to their counterparts. In the race to find an effective treatment for the virus, further research will be required to establish the exact function of these stem cells for treating COVID-19.

At LifeCell, we bank the cord blood-derived stem cells of newborns, which are known to have numerous therapeutic benefits. These cells can help in the treatment of 80+ disorders and are currently a choice of over 3,00,000 parents!

To know more about banking your newborn’s umbilical cord stem cells with LifeCell, call us at 1800 266 5533 or SMS ‘LIFECELL’ to 53456.