Monday 17 October 2011
Adult stem cells are multipotent cells committed to specific lineages. They can replenish dying cells and damaged tissues by multiplying through cell division and differentiating into a subset of cell types specific to its lineage. As such, they hold vast regenerative and therapeutic potential.
Furthermore, their use in cell therapy is less controversial as they can be harvested from various sources in humans whereas the use of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) often entails destruction of human embryos.
Thus, recent efforts are focused on efficient expansion and differentiation of adult stem cells for clinical purposes. Notably, there have been significant advancements in clinical applications of neural, mesenchymal and hematopoietic stem cells.
Neural Stem Cell Therapy
There have been extensive developments in the use of NSCs for treatment of neurological disorders such as lysosomal storage diseases, stroke and cancer.
StemCells Inc. has proposed a clinical trial to use human central nervous system-stem cells (HuCNS-SCs) in the treatment of Batten disease and the NSC therapy for stroke patient developed by ReNeuron has reached the stage of a first-in-man clinical trial.
Importantly, NSCs can also be used as possible drug delivery agents to brain tumors.
An investigation by Aboody et al. described the ability of NSCs to track tumor cells and deliver cytosine deaminase, which converts a non-toxic pro-drug into a chemotherapeutic agent.
This cancer treatment offers the advantage of selectively targeting and killing the cancer cells. The clinical trial for such a treatment is underway and currently recruiting participants with recurrent brain tumors.
As early evidence with a mouse model suggests, NSCs could also potentially be used in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.