Stem Cell Source Matters for Cancer Treatment and Other Therapies | Corning

Cancer Treatment and Other Therapies Impacted by Stem Cell Source
Not all mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are created equal. There are several primary sources for these cells, and it's important to consider how each can impact therapeutic success. The source may affect cell functionality, which can affect not only the end goal of a variety of clinical applications, including cancer treatment, but also the ability to scale up to a therapeutic dose. Corning senior application scientist Hilary Sherman advises that it's important to consider these end goals when you're choosing the source of your stem cells.

Stem Cells for Treatment

According to Stem Cells Translational Medicine, stem cell therapy is clinically proven to be effective in managing Graft versus Host Disease (GvHD) and for treating anal fistula in Crohn's Disease. Although validation for other conditions need more clinical studies to prove effectiveness, using MSCs in therapy is generally considered safe and well tolerated in patients.

There's huge potential that stem cell therapy may become a cornerstone treatment for managing many conditions. The journal Stem Cell Therapy lists neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, MS, ALS, diabetes, macular degeneration, and spinal cord injury as areas of active research. There's also interest in using stem cell therapy in dentistry and in cancer treatment. BioMed Research International notes that MSCs could be useful in cancer treatment through targeted tumor suppression and by acting on cancer stem cells

Studies have shown that each therapeutic use harnesses MSC functionality for regenerative medicine success through immunomodulation, anti-inflammatory actions, and local regenerative effects. Which condition you are trying to treat and how the cells themselves may contribute to clinical success can influence source selection substantially. For example, in cancer treatment, it's important not only to treat the primary pathology but also to ensure that the treatment does not support tumor growth.

Stem Cell Source: Umbilical Cord vs. Bone Marrow Derived

Stem cells used for regenerative medicine can provide different advantages depending on their source. For example, a study published in Nature found that MSCs derived from Human Umbilical Cord MSCs (HUCMSCs) show greater chondrogenic potential than MSCs traditionally gathered from bone marrow (BMSCs).

Research into the suitability of some sources over others is still in its infancy, but evidence shows that in some cases, there may be benefits to choosing a specific source. Sherman notes that HUMSCs and other placental-derived MSCs tend to have better proliferative capacity for expansion. Since they are "younger" cells, they give higher numbers in culture and resist alteration with serial passage more strongly than BMSCs. They're also much easier to access because the tissues they're derived from are considered waste products during birthing.

In addition to being much easier to access, HUCMSCs and birth-associated MSCs also have longer life spans in culture. Although BMSCs have been studied more, and there's more experimental data available on BMSCs, initial studies on HUCMSCs suggest they offer better anti-inflammatory effects in stem cell therapy.

How Do You Choose the Source of Your MSCs?

Accessibility: Sherman suggests that scientists consider ease of access and whether the intended treatment will be autologous or allogenic. For example, while HUCMSCs and other birth-associated stem cells are relatively easy to access, timing might mean they aren't available for autologous treatment. Although BMSCs are valid options for therapy, harvesting them requires full general anesthesia to drill into the bone marrow cavity. Recovery from the procedure is lengthy and painful.

Therapeutic Success and End Goals: Scientists must also know what the end goal is; they should understand the disease process and how MSC therapy could contribute to therapeutic success. To be effective, MSCs must either successfully differentiate into a specific cell type, secrete factors such as cytokines and cell-active modulators that act therapeutically on surrounding tissues, or impact host cell action by direct contact.

Consider Cell Characteristics for Scaling Up: Sherman advises characterizing cells right from the start to avoid problems with obtaining enough cells. In addition to referring to previous studies for culture conditions, it's also important to know the expansion characteristics of the MSC source. Not only is cell functionality important, but the expansion potential indicates how easily the MSC cultures will be able to scale up.

A 2020 review of 914 clinical trials published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine found that the average effective range is between 100 and 150 million MSCs per dose. MSCs given intravenously disappear rapidly, so repeated doses may be required." With different MSC cultures ranging in achievable density it's important to understand how many cells are required to plan for the right culture process to achieve the appropriate quantity of cells.

Since culture conditions often affect MSC functionality, with increased passaging leading to loss of beneficial cell characteristics, it's important to work with the growth characteristics of the cell populations. Using a high-volume system such as the Corning HYPER technology platform, scientists can effectively culture sufficient numbers of fully functional MSCs from birth-associated and bone marrow sources. Both sources have cultured successfully in the Corning HYPERStack 36-layer system, producing yields of one billion and 870 million MSCs respectively.

Data suggests that as the interest in using MSCs for cell therapy continues to grow, there will continue to be an increase in the need for large quantities of quality cells. Corning can help achieve Corning can support cell scale-up for a variety of cell types and applications. Contact us to learn more about these solutions and to speak to a Corning represent