Mesenchymal stem cells, also known as mesenchymal stromal cells or MSCs, are multipotent stromal cells that can differentiate into a variety of cell types, including osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and adipocytes (fat cells). They were first discovered in the bone marrow but have since been found in various tissues including umbilical cord blood, placenta and adipose tissue.
MSCs have immunosuppressive properties which make them a promising candidate for cell-based therapies. They secrete biomolecules that suppress inflammatory responses and promote tissue repair. Due to these characteristics, MSCs are being investigated for therapeutic applications in various degenerative diseases as well as graft-versus-host disease.
Sources and Isolation of MSCs
The most common source of MSCs is bone marrow, where they reside in the periosteum and endosteum regions. Bone marrow aspiration is a relatively non-invasive procedure used to isolate MSCs from this source. Coherent Market Insights in Mesenchymal Stem Cells Market discusses in detail that MSCs also exist in other tissues like:
– Adipose tissue: Lipoaspirates obtained from liposuction are a rich source of MSCs from adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs). ADSCs have higher proliferation rates than bone marrow derived MSCs.
– Umbilical cord/cord blood: Collected after birth from discarded umbilical cord and cord blood, these are abundant sources of MSCs with high expansion potential.
– Placenta: Can be collected after normal full-term deliveries and is enriched in MSCs.
Regardless of source tissue, MSCs must be isolated through adherence to plastic and expanded in vitro to obtain sufficient numbers for research and clinical applications. Their multipotency is validated through differentiation assays into osteoblasts, chondrocytes and adipocytes.
Therapeutic Applications of MSCs
Owing to their ability to home in on sites of injury, exert immunomodulatory effects and promote tissue regeneration, MSCs hold promise in the treatment of various degenerative diseases:
Bone and cartilage repair: Due to their osteogenic and chondrogenic potential, MSCs are being tested for bone fractures, osteoporosis and cartilage defects. Early clinical trials show efficacy in osteogenesis imperfecta.
Graft-versus-host disease: Administration of donor or third party MSCs helps reduce symptoms in patients undergoing hematopoietic Stem Cell transplants by suppressing immune reactions.
Liver diseases: Preclinical models of liver fibrosis, cirrhosis and acute liver failure show that MSCs help regenerate liver tissues and decrease inflammation. Clinical trials are ongoing.
Cardiovascular diseases: Intramyocardial injection of MSCs has shown to improve cardiac functions post myocardial infarction. MSCs may also help repair damaged blood vessels.
Neural conditions: From animal studies, MSCs exhibit neuroprotective effects in models of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis probably due to secreted neurotrophic factors.
Challenges and the Path Ahead
While results from preclinical and early phase clinical trials of MSC therapies have been promising, there are still challenges that need to be addressed before they can be routinely used in patients:
– Understanding mechanisms of action: MSCs exert therapeutic effects through intricate interactions between secreted factors and host cells. Deeper insights are needed into these molecular pathways.
– Ensuring consistency: Properties of MSCs can vary with source tissue, donor variations and isolation/expansion protocols. Standardization is critical for reproducible outcomes.
– Tumor formation risks: Long-term safety needs to be established through monitoring of clinical trial participants over years for any tumorigenic potential after MSC administration.
– Delivery methods: Conditioned environments at disease sites may compromise MSC function. Novel delivery strategies like encapsulation systems could improve homing and engraftment abilities.
With continued research focusing on overcoming these challenges, MSC therapy holds great promise to revolutionize the treatment of various human diseases. Larger clinical trials are underway to validate their safety and efficacy.
The global mesenchymal stem cell market size is expected to witness significant growth due to increasing incidence of chronic diseases, rise in musculoskeletal disorders, growth of regenerative medicines and funding for stem cell research activities. North America currently dominates the market due to continuous technological advancements and increasing adoption of stem cell therapies in the region. However, Asia Pacific is anticipated to emerge as the fastest growing market in the upcoming years owing to growing geriatric population, developing healthcare infrastructure and increasing investment by market players in countries like China, India and Japan. For more detailed insights into the current and future market potential, trends, and region-wise statistics, refer to the comprehensive market research report on mesenchymal stem cells published on the Coherent Market Insights portal.