COVID-19: Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Centre invests Dh3.6 million in cutting-edge equipment to fight coronavirus
Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Centre, ADSCC, has announced the installation of a piece of cutting-edge medical equipment that should help scientists reveal new insights into the COVID-19 virus. The ADSCC, a specialist healthcare centre that focuses on cell therapy, regenerative medicine and research on stem cells, has acquired and installed a Helios Mass Cytometer, which is able to count and classify a sample, cell by cell The cytometer, the only one of its kind in the Middle East, costs Dh3.6 million and is a major investment by the ADSCC in its leading-edge capabilities during the fight against COVID-19. The Helios cytometer will enable scientists at the centre to quickly and accurately profile individual human cells, allowing them to study and monitor a patient’s immune response to the virus, revealing insights about the pandemic from the “patient defense” point of view. <em>“With this tool, the ADSCC can study clinical outcomes and changes in inflammatory or immune function from blood samples of COVID-19 patients,”</em> an ADSCC spokesperson said. <em>“This will allow us to address some of the pressing questions that remain unanswered regarding COVID-19.”</em> Among the answers, scientists are looking for what immunologic features and molecular mechanisms are involved in COVID-19 severity, whether those most at risk of severe symptoms can be identified early, what interventions can help reduce the severity of the illness, and what vaccines may prove most effective. The ADSCC recently announced a breakthrough treatment for patients of COVID-19, which appeared to help the body fight the virus and make the disease less harmful. The treatment involves extracting stem cells from the patient’s own blood and reintroducing them as a nebulising mist after reactivating them. To date the treatment has had a 100 per cent success rate. Staff at the centre are currently receiving training on the operation of the new machine, which they have affectionately dubbed ‘The Lamborghini’. In another development announced today, ADSCC will begin offering Minimal Residual Disease tests for cancer patients – a first in the UAE. The highly specialised test allows physicians to spot residual, potentially-resistant cells that can lead to a relapse in patients. Currently such a test is not available in the UAE and cancer patients have to travel abroad to be tested because the test requires the use of a fresh sample to be accurate. The availability of this test in the UAE represents an important step forward in the treatment and management of cancer, particularly for adults and children suffering from Multiple Myeloma and Leukemia.