Lawrence-based biotech company develops possible COVID-19 therapy

Posted at 6:13 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 19:50:41-04

LAWRENCE, Kan. — A Lawrence biotech company believes it has developed a way to help flatten the epidemiological curve of the COVID-19 spread.

Clara Biotech CEO James West said the company has developed a first-of-its-kind therapeutic treatment using exosomes that helps fight COVID-19 symptoms.

West said exosomes are a relatively new discovery. He calls them a whole new world of medicine.

"When introduced into tissues and cells, they have an anti-inflammatory response, which enables the cells to actually repair, grow, and regenerate," West said.

Combined with the isolation technology Clara Biotech developed, West said exosomes can be used to prevent lung fibrosis COVID-19 is known to cause.

"That's what sends people to the hospital," West said. "That's what puts people on ventilators, because their lungs no longer function as they should."

West believes the treatment would reduce the amount of time patients need to be on ventilators, which would help save bed space in hospitals and potentially limit future health problems.

"We're talking about really significant long-term complications from just being on the ventilator period, much less the ventilator resources, which we're already overwhelmed with," West said.

West said lung fibrosis is a serious disease that can stay with someone even after they've recovered from COVID-19, but with the therapeutic treatment recovery could be quicker.

The company is currently working to get approval and funds for clinical trials.

"If we can get the money that we need to push this forward, we could have a therapeutic potentially to patients in as early as seven to eight months," West said.