For now, stem cells for Covid-19 are mostly a shot in the dark

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The uncertainty over how to effectively treat Covid-19 is proving to be an opportunity for people interested in stem cells.

It is such a hot area that there are dozens of clinical trials underway testing different kinds of stem cells and other cells against Covid-19. And many stem cell clinics have started pitching cell therapies for Covid-19 in the past year.

As a stem cell researcher, I don’t think this approach will be a transformative way to treat Covid-19, but I worry that the buzz around it could do harm.

How did we get into this situation?

In the human body, a skin cell is a skin cell and, when it grows and divides, becomes another skin cell. The same holds for other cell types — except stem cells. One of the amazing things about them is that they can turn into other, specialized cells, some of which have the potential to treat specific diseases. The most powerful stem cells, called pluripotent stem cells, can turn into any kind of cell.

Adult stem...

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