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Are Clinical Trials With Mesenchymal Stem/Progenitor Cells too far ahead of the Science?

There are many questions when it comes to stem cell research. This sentinel article highlights the development of HSC hematopoietic stem cells over the past 60 years and identifies certain challenges we can expect as we develop MSC mesenchymal stem cell technology.

Download a PDF of the article.

You can see the vital role of the clinical work and how it developed and focused the laboratory work that was necessary to perfect the HSC transplant technology used today for malignancies and severe autoimmune disease.

Some of the science highlighted in the article will be added to the FAQ section of our Network website. As you can see, MSC’s behave in a more unpredictable and cytokine dependent fashion than HSC’s, making success with serious disease treatment more elusive.

Simplistic laboratory schemes of differentiating MSC cells and using them clinically will continue to be a challenge since these cells do not engraft easily and MSC’s create their own complex cytokine milieu to which the cells themselves are sensitive.

This emphasizes a role for in vivo empiric research as well as laboratory defined study of MSC’s behavior in complex systems.

On page 7, there is a schematic of the collaboration between clinical and laboratory work that was vital to the successful development of HSC technology over 60 years.

As the paper states, the current development of therapies with MSC’s is similar to HSC technology in the 1970’s when data was being accumulated but there was no clear unifying hypothesis to explain the results and no clear path to successful clinical trials.

It would behoove our Ph.D. colleagues who detract from the clinical work our Network is doing to be aware of the current state of MSC science and to not minimize the importance of the clinical information we are developing pertaining to disease mitigation and the advancement of deployment methods.

Elliot Lander, MD

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