Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE.Q -21.49%) has added another arrow to its COVID-19 quiver. The biotech licensed an adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) treatment from Personalized Stem Cells for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome associated with COVID-19.

The MSC treatment was derived from fat cells, but the cells have the ability to turn into other types of tissue. "The data suggests stem cells have the ability to reduce inflammation, reduce scar tissue formation, and to aid in clearing the lungs of fluid," Robert Harman, CEO of Personalized Stem Cells, noted in May.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the start of a 20-patient phase 1 clinical trial in July, but the study hasn't started recruiting patients, according to The main purpose of the early-stage study is twofold: Assess the safety of the treatment and measure its risk/benefit ratio.

Doctor in personal protective equipment talking to a patient in a mask

Image source: Getty Images.

Sorrento will take over the execution of the phase 1 study from Personalized Stem Cells. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

The MSC treatment joins Sorrento's other COVID-19 treatments, including abivertinib, salicyn-30, STI-1499 and STI-2020. Abivertinib was developed as a cancer treatment, but Sorrento hopes it could also help patients with COVID-19 by dampening the overactive immune system, which can cause problems in patients with COVID-19. Salicyn-30 is a direct-acting antiviral designed to inhibit the reproduction of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. STI-1499 and STI-2020 are neutralizing antibodies that bind directly to the coronavirus.

In theory, the arsenal that Sorrento has developed could be used in combination with each other to help patients. But at some point, the biotech needs to stop discovering and licensing new treatments and spend more effort developing the treatments and getting them authorized by the FDA.