Are Clinical Trials With Mesenchymal Stem/Progenitor Cells too Far Ahead of the Science? Lessons From Experimental Hematology

Authors

  • Darwin J. Prockop,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine at Scott and White, Temple, Texas, USA
    • Correspondence: Darwin J. Prockop, M.D., Ph.D., Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine at Scott and White, Temple, Texas, USA. Telephone: +1-254-771-6800; Fax: +1-254-771-6839; e-mail: Prockop@medicine.tamhsc.edu

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  • Susan E. Prockop,

    1. Department of Pediatrics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA
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  • Ivan Bertoncello

    1. Lung Health Research Centre, Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Abstract

The cells referred to as mesenchymal stem/progenitor cells (MSCs) are currently being used to treat thousands of patients with diseases of essentially all the organs and tissues of the body. Strikingly positive results have been reported in some patients, but there have been few prospective controlled studies. Also, the reasons for the beneficial effects are frequently unclear. As a result there has been a heated debate as to whether the clinical trials with these new cell therapies are too far ahead of the science. The debate is not easily resolved, but important insights are provided by the 60-year history that was required to develop the first successful stem cell therapy, the transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells. The history indicates that development of a dramatically new therapy usually requires patience and a constant dialogue between basic scientists and physicians carrying out carefully designed clinical trials. It also suggests that the field can be moved forward by establishing better records of how MSCs are prepared, by establishing a large supply of reference MSCs that can be used to validate assays and compare MSCs prepared in different laboratories, and by continuing efforts to establish in vivo assays for the efficacy of MSCs. Stem Cells 2014;32:3055–3061

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