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The Promise of Stromal Cells (Mesenchymal Stem Cells)

Jan 28, 2020 10:07:00 AM / by Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD

Asian father and his son making a pinkie promise_AdobeStock_159261252-1Stromal cells are becoming a viable candidate for cell therapy due to their immunosuppressive properties and ability to treat autoimmune diseases.

Advances in the development of treatments for autoimmune diseases and tissue repair are being realized through cell therapy approaches. Research is ongoing to overcome common limitations to successful clinical use, such as transplantation rejection and low therapeutic efficacy. Stromal cells, or mesenchymal stem cells, are becoming a very viable candidate for cell therapy due to their unique characteristics in comparison to other stem cell types. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are pluripotent stem cells that are self-renewable; however, they have immunomodulatory features that increase the success of their utility for immune disease therapy and regenerative medicine.

The immunosuppressive properties of mesenchymal stem cells make this cell type ideal for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. This cell population can be found in just about every tissue in the body, but a large proportion is found in bone marrow. Despite the ubiquity and beneficial properties of mesenchymal stem cells, it is still a challenge to culture these long term. Over time, the cells become senescent and lose their differentiating capacity. Genomic mutations may occur in the cells, but they do not tend to undergo a malignant transformation when expanded in serum-free media, allowing expansion at higher passages.

Clinical trials in Canada are underway to determine the efficacy and safety of autologous mesenchymal stem cell treatment for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). In contrast to a previous bone marrow transplantation clinical trial, patients are not subjected to chemotherapy. This is because mesenchymal stem cell therapy suppresses or overcomes the immune cells that promote MS. Another added benefit for this treatment approach is the anti-inflammatory features of these stem cells.

Mesenchymal stem cell therapy may also represent an approach to support recovery from stroke. Scientists studied the effects of allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells derived from bone marrow or adipose tissue. Intravenous stem cell administration of rats improved brain function and decreased cell death when compared to untreated rats. Increased neurogenesis, cellular proliferation, angiogenesis, and other regenerative markers were also noted. Continued research can provide valuable data to improve the efficacy and safety of mesenchymal stem cell-based therapy in immune and inflammatory disease, as well as enhance regenerative medical therapy.

HemaCare recently launched GMP-compliant bone marrow aspirate, a source rich in stem and progenitor cells, including MSCs to advance the development of life-saving therapies. Learn more about GMPrime Bone Marrow Aspirate.

Resource: Dr. Supriya Subramanian, P. (2019). What are Stromal Cells (Mesenchymal Stem Cells)?. Retrieved 2 December 2019, from

Topics: Bone Marrow, Cell Therapy, Stem Cells

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