ASX large cap biotech Mesoblast (ASX:MSB) is not alone in fighting Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

ARDS is a disease that hinders the lungs’ ability to operate and is a major culprit of COVID-19 deaths. Essentially it causes lungs to inflame and fill with fluid leaving patients struggling to breathe.

Mesoblast’s stem cell based Remestemcel-L product was intended to fight graft versus host disease but for several months has been put to the test against ARDS.

This has caused shares to rally for several months from $1.10 to as high as $5.50 in September.

Shares began to drop in October with the Pfizer vaccine news and the FDA ordering it to conduct another clinical trial in relation to treating bone marrow transplant complications.

But this morning, Mesoblast shares rallied after American regulator the FDA gave it fast track designation.


Other ASX ARDS fighters

The majority of ASX stocks in the fight against ARDS are biotechs although one exemption is medtech 4D Medical (ASX:4DX).

This company has lung imaging technology, XV, which is close to commercialisation, having passed clinical trials, obtained FDA and TGA approval and is recruiting sales team for the US and Australia.

While XV has general focus on lung diseases, it has been validated to monitor ARDS as well as therapy and treatment research.

The company listed in August and is up 247 per cent since then.

Mesoblast’s fellow stem cell play Cynata Therapeutics (ASX:CYP) is another ASX candidate fighting ARDS.

It is currently recruiting for a clinical trial in New South Wales to test its Cymerus platform against ARDS.

However this is just one of many programs Cynata has going on. The most advanced is its fight against Graft vs Host disease where it is collaborating with Fujifilm.

Incannex Healthcare (ASX:IHL) is another, fighting ARDS with a therapy combining cannabidiol and hydroxychloroquine (IHL-675A).

The company has notched up solid pre-clinical results on rats and in-vitro (in tube) studies.

Dimerix (ASX:DXB), which has traditionally targeted kidney disease had its DXB-200 drug chosen in June for a global program against ARDS.

It has since received $1 million from the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund, to support its inclusion in the global study.

Rounding out the list of ASX ARDS fighters is PharmAust (ASX:PAA) which, similar to Incannex, has passed in vitro studies and is looking to do clinical trials.

There are several other ASX stocks in the COVID-19 fight.

These ranging from rapid test plays AnteoTech (ASX:ADO) and Atomo (ASX:AT1) to companies targeting other COVID-19 symptoms including Recce Pharmaceuticals (ASX:RCE) and Biotron (ASX:BIT).

At Stockhead we tell it like it is. While Dimerix and Incannex are Stockhead advertisers, they did not sponsor this article.