Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have multiple clinical trials underway to support their infinite potential in the field of medicine! These self-renewing cells are the potential key to treating a wide range of medical conditions. To know all about its therapeutic uses and other potential benefits, keep reading!
What Are Mesenchymal Stem Cells?
Mesenchymal stem cells or mesenchymal stromal cells as they are widely referred to, are multipotent in nature. This means that they have the ability to convert into various other cell types including bone, skin, cartilage, fat, and muscle cells1!
MSCs are self-renewable in nature and can be derived from various sources like the bone marrow, menstrual blood, umbilical cord, placenta, adipose tissues, as well as the dental pulp of milk teeth (the first set of teeth to develop in humans)2 3. What’s more? MSCs are universal donor cells that do not require donor-recipient matching prior to transplants!
Furthermore, in some cases, graft versus host disease (GVHD) was observed in patients following bone marrow transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells. In such scenarios, co-transplantation with mesenchymal stem cells have been observed to support engraftment (successful replication of transplanted stem cells in host)1.
Hematopoietic Stem Cells Vs Mesenchymal Stem Cells
While both hematopoietic and mesenchymal cells are two different types of stem cells, they differ quite a lot when it comes to their ability to transform into other cell types. Here’s a table summarizing some of their common differences2.
Clinical Applications Of Mesenchymal Stem Cells
Mesenchymal stem cells show promising potential in the treatment of an array of medical conditions, all thanks to its regenerative (self-renewing), immunomodulatory (suppression or stimulation of immune responses), and differentiating ability1.
Some areas of medicine that MSCs have been successfully used in include1:
Bone And Cartilage Diseases:
The ability of MSCs to transform into bone and cartilage cells and tissues have made them quite popular in orthopedic settings. They have been observed to be quite useful in treating bone disorders like osteogenesis imperfecta (an inherited bone disorder) and hypophosphatasia (an inherited metabolic disorder that affects bone and teeth development)1.
The regenerative and immunomodulatory action of MSCs make them a great candidate when it comes to the treatment of cardiovascular diseases as well. In several preclinical and clinical trials, mesenchymal stem cells have shown promising results in cardiac repair while also improving cardiac functioning1.
In end-stage liver diseases, MSCs are a great alternative to liver transplants. Although these cells have been used in limited clinical trials, their potential in treating liver disorders like cirrhosis (a chronic liver disorder that causes degeneration of liver cells) is remarkable and unmissable1!
Stem Cell Therapy For Treating Critical Limb Ischemia Approved In India
India has also recently approved the clinical use of a stem cell therapy for the treatment of Critical Limb Ischemia (a form of peripheral artery disease that causes reduced blood flow)3. This is the first-of-its-kind allogeneic cell therapy to be approved for commercial use in the country.
LifeCell Introduces Mesocel Therapy
LifeCell’s Mesocel Therapy uses mesenchymal stem cells derived from donated umbilical cord tissues and has been approved for clinical trials against COVID-19 by the Biological Division of the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). This is mainly due to the ability of the mesenchymal stem cells to regenerate and suppress immune responses in the recipient. These features of the MSCs can help treat acute lung injuries and inflammation triggered by the novel Coronavirus4.
Mesocel is an advanced stem cell therapy comprising 100 million MSCs derived from donated umbilical cord tissue that can be safely injected in patients without the need for matching between the donor and recipient5.
A Parting Note
There is no doubt that mesenchymal stem cells hold the power to a better and healthier future, all thanks to its regenerating properties. However, various aspects of medicine still remain untouched by these universal donor cells. This highlights the need for more clinical studies surrounding MSCs and other existing health conditions to overcome the shortcomings in stem cell-based treatments.