Mesoblast Limited today announced that it has received clearance from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to treat patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) caused by coronavirus infection (COVID-19) with intravenous infusions of its allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) product candidate Remestemcel-L.

Mesoblast Chief Medical Officer Dr Fred Grossman said: “The FDA clearance provides a pathway in the United States for use of remestemcel-L in patients with COVID-19 ARDS, where the prognosis is very dismal, under both expanded access compassionate use and in a planned randomized controlled trial.”

Remestemcel-L is being developed for various inflammatory conditions, and is believed to counteract the inflammatory processes implicated in these diseases by down-regulating the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, increasing production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, and enabling recruitment of naturally occurring anti-inflammatory cells to involved tissues. The safety and therapeutic effects of remestemcel-L intravenous infusions have been evaluated in over 1,100 patients in various clinical trials.

Remestemcel-L was successful in a Phase 3 trial for steroid-refractory acute graft versus host disease (aGVHD) in children, a potentially fatal inflammatory condition due to a similar cytokine storm process as is seen in COVID-19 ARDS. Additionally, a post-hoc analysis of a randomized, placebo-controlled study in 60 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease demonstrated that remestemcel-L significantly improved respiratory function in patients with the same elevated inflammatory biomarkers that are also observed in patients with COVID-19 ARDS. Together, these outcomes provide the rationale for evaluating remestemcel-L in patients with COVID-19 ARDS.

Mesoblast’s Biologics License Application to seek approval of its product candidate RYONCIL™ (remestemcel-L) for steroid-refractory acute graft versus host disease (acute GvHD) has been accepted for priority review by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Remestemcel-L is also being developed for other rare diseases. Mesoblast is completing Phase 3 trials for its product candidates for advanced heart failure and chronic low back pain.

If approved, RYONCIL is expected to be launched in the United States in 2020 for pediatric steroid- refractory acute GVHD. Two products have been commercialized in Japan and Europe by Mesoblast’s licensees, and the Company has established commercial partnerships in Europe and China for certain Phase 3 assets.

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