Seattle’s Infectious Disease Research Institute to coordinate the study of a novel COVID-19 treatment

Human trial will enroll approximately 100 patients with investigational immunotherapy developed by Celularity for cases of COVID-19 disease

With more than 25 years of success in infectious disease research and development, the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) is poised make rapid and significant advances in developing a treatment of COVID-19. The organization is coordinating a novel study for the treatment in collaboration with New Jersey-based Celularity Inc., which has pioneered an investigational immunotherapy that could potentially be a promising treatment option for COVID-19.

The treatment is based on the administration of immune cells known as Natural Killer or “NK cells” which have been safely given in early phase studies to patients for the treatment of leukemia and multiple myeloma. NK cells play a key role in the body’s defense against viral infections, and the severe cases of COVID-19 in the initial patients were associated with low NK cell counts.

“To date, efforts to treat COVID-19 cases have been primarily focused on antiviral medications,” explains IDRI’s CEO Corey Casper. “While these are important, patients with serious disease may not respond completely to antiviral medications because they are experiencing damage already inflicted on the body’s vital organs.”

Celularity obtained Investigational New Drug clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to test its proprietary NK cell product, CYNK-001, against COVID-19. CYNK-001 is the only cryopreserved allogeneic, off-the-shelf NK cell therapy developed from placental hematopoietic stem cells as a potential treatment option for COVID-19 and other viral diseases, as well as various hematologic cancers and solid tumors. The groundbreaking study, opening shortly at medical centers in the United States, will enroll approximately 100 patients diagnosed with a COVID-19 infection causing pneumonia. Participants will be provided with infusions of CYNK-001.

“The hypothesis is that administering NK cells to patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 will allow the immune cells find the sites of active viral infection, kill the virus, and induce a robust immune response that will help heal the damage and control the infection,” noted Casper, who is also a Clinical Professor of Global Health and Medicine (Infectious Disease) at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“Beyond its promise as a critically needed treatment for COVID-19, the biology of NK cells indicates a possibility that this immunotherapy could be used as an off-the-shelf treatment for future pandemic infections,” he added.

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About IDRI 
As a nonprofit global health organization, IDRI (Infectious Disease Research Institute) takes a comprehensive approach to combat infectious diseases, combining the high-quality science of a research organization with the product development capabilities of a biotech company to create vaccines and therapeutics. IDRI combines passion for improving human health with the understanding that it is not just what our scientists know about disease, but what we do to change its course that will have the greatest impact. Founded in 1993, IDRI has 55 employees headquartered in Seattle with more than 100 partners/collaborators around the world. For more information, visit

About Celularity 
Celularity Inc., headquartered in Warren, N.J., is a clinical-stage cell therapeutics company delivering transformative allogeneic cellular therapies derived from the postpartum human placenta. Using proprietary technology in combination with its IMPACT™ platform, Celularity is the only company harnessing the purity and versatility of placental-derived cells to develop and manufacture innovative and highly scalable off-the-shelf treatments for patients with cancer, viral, inflammatory and age-related diseases. To learn more, please visit

For media inquiries, please contact: 
Aaron Blank/Jacque Seaman, The Fearey Group for IDRI 
(206) 343-1543, [email protected]

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