Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Their Clinical Applications
“Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease”. —Hippocrates.
Patients battle their disease every day. This struggle is the most difficult part of their lives. Meanwhile, doctors and scientist strive to find a cure. What is the conclusion? Many are the times that a disease doesn´t have a definite cure. However, there must be a way to help millions of patients with chronic, autoimmune and degenerative diseases. Human cells can be the force that could attenuate the effects of multiple pathologies, in an effective way, sometimes better than the standard treatment or as a complement to it. We refer here specifically to mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). These cells can be isolated and expanded from different adult tissues. Their various proven effects create a great expectation. They are known for the following effects: anti-inflammatory effect, immunomodulation, angiogenesis, anti-apoptosis and regeneration. They are widely available using the appropriate sources and techniques.
Although initially the research focused on the use of embryonic stem cells, their practical use is limited due to the ethical problems that their origin confers. In contrast, stem cells derived from adult tissues do not have any ethical problem in terms of their various sources and their therapeutic use. For the bio-engineering of mesoderm-derived tissues and their regeneration, the use of mesenchymal stem cells, experimentally and clinically, shows many advantages.
Currently (October 2020), there are more than 1,100 clinical trials registered on clinicaltrials.gov, exploring the various potential applications of mesenchymal stem cells. Also, we should not forget the thousands of completed protocols published in world-renown scientific journals that support their safety and effectiveness. Our institution has developed protocols for mesenchymal stem cell therapy using both, autologous (donated by the patient treated) and allogeneic (donated by another person) stem cells. Such protocols have confirmed what many other studies had already theorized or confirmed: MSCs demonstrate their great value mainly against autoimmune and chronic degenerative pathologies.
The mesenchymal stem cells used at IMMUNOTHERAPY are obtained through a safe and innocuous process of isolation and expansion in highly equipped modern laboratories. The MSCs´ origin can be placenta tissue, umbilical cord blood and tissue, adipose tissue, and sometimes other tissues such as bone marrow or blood.
The following are among MSCs´ main effects and characteristics:
Regeneration: through the secretion of growth factors and the induction of angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels to nourish damaged areas). Among the specific factors released by MSCs for these effects are: release of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), angiopoietin and erythropoietin, as well as growth factors such as hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), fibroblast growth factor (BFGF), andgranulocyte and macrophage colony stimulating factor.
In the same way, the differentiation capacity of the mesenchymal stem cells themselves provide the necessary substrates to regenerate different tissues in the human body: cartilage, bone, muscle, nerves, etc. This effect is useful in chronic degenerative pathologies such as cardiovascular disease (examples: history of heart or cerebral infarctions, arrhythmias, hypertension, thrombosis), neurodegenerative diseases (examples: Alzheimer's, Parkinson's) and autoimmune diseases (examples: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus).
Anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effect: by decreasing pro-inflammatory substances such as interleukin-1β, TNF-α and interleukin-6. These substances are involved in multiple chronic degenerative pathologies, but mainly in immunological diseases. In the same way, protective cytokines such as interleukin-10, prostaglandin E2 and the enzyme indolamine 2, 3-dioxygenase are secreted, which allow the immune system to continue functioning, but in a regulated and adequate way.
Low immunogenicity: Mesenchymal stem cells, when transplanted from a different donor, do not generate a rejection immune response because the surface of these cells does not express class II antigens of the main histocompatibility complex and co-stimulatory molecules (such as CD80, CD86, or CD40), and they express low levels of class I antigens of the major histocompatibility complex.
Other effects: neuroprotection, homing (through chemotaxis or chemical attraction, stem cells “go where they need to go” interpreting signals that specifically guide them to damaged organs or tissues) and antiapoptosis effect (prevention of healthy cells´ death).
• Immunological diseases: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, UC (ulcerative colitis), ankylosing spondylitis, uveitis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, etc.
• Cardiovascular diseases: history of acute myocardial infarction, cerebral-vascular event, hypertension or dyslipidemias.
• Musculoskeletal disorders: osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, degenerative joind disease, herniated discs.
• Neurological diseases: Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, vascular dementia, polyneuropathies, neuritis.
• Other: subacute or chronic complications of COVID-19, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, acute respiratory distress syndrome.
There are many stem cell treatment options that could benefit the patient and the treating physician should be able to select the best option. Similarly, there are different types of stem cells that must be known. MSCs show great advantages; however, the physician must be able to ensure the quality of the stem cells to be administered, as well as the adequate dosage. This is the only way to have a greater chance of obtaining the desired positive effect.
Stem cell therapy is no longer the future of medicine; It is today´s reality. MSCs´ research and clinical application should continue for many years to come due to its many beneficial effects.