Cell therapy is an innovative biological technology that has made large strides in the recent decade. Just 5 – 10 years ago, it was uncommon to consider a cell therapy option for damaged joints or neurodegenerative diseases. It is not to say cell therapy has not had a medical impact. To the contrary, the medical institutions have been using cell therapy for decades with the application of bone marrow transplants for treatments of cancer or hematological diseases. The expanded uses of cell therapy are a result of growing understanding of biological concepts of tissue regeneration and research on various cell types. The goal of cell therapy is a passionate search for “biological solutions to biological problems.”
As such, cell therapy is defined as the administration of live whole cells or maturation cell populations in a patient for the treatment of a disease. The types of cells used in this application can be mature cells, such a T cells or dendritic cells, to adult stem cells isolated from a fresh tissue source. An exciting up and coming use of mature cells is that of regulatory T cells in therapeutic applications. Regulatory T cells confer long-term protection against auto-inflammatory diseases in mouse models and have been shown to be effective in suppressing alloimmunity in models of graft-versus-host disease.  Regulatory T cell therapy is now at the point of evaluating its safety and efficacy within preclinical testing in humans. [2, 3]
Another interesting mature cell type being explored for cell therapy is the dendritic cell. Dendritic cells are highly-specialized, bone marrow-derived antigen-presenting cells that induce or regulate innate and adaptive immunity. Since the mid-1990s, dendritic cells have been used in clinical trials as cellular mediators for therapeutic vaccinations of patients with cancer. Dendritic cell based therapeutic immunotherapies with oncogene inhibitors in patients appear to be the method of choice. Human clinical trials investigating targetable tumors are underway in renal cell carcinoma, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and melanoma. [4, 5]
A large proportion of cell therapy is in development with various types of stem cells. Recent advances in stem cell biology and cell culture techniques have facilitated the development of cell therapy for translational medicine. Adult stem cells have been used in pilot studies as potential cell-based therapy for various diseases. Certain types of adult stem cells are better candidates for therapeutic applications, as compared to other stem cell types. To date, the most common types of adult stem cells used are bone marrow stem cells (i.e. CD34+), mobilized hematopoietic stem cells and adipose stem cells. These particular stem cell lineages are easily harvested from patients, have a high capacity of cell proliferation in culture, are able to migrate to host target tissues and have the ability to integrate into host tissues to interact with the surrounding tissues. [6, 7]
Cell therapy is challenging and should surprise no one by its pace of approval and acceptance. A sense of caution must also be taken when considering cell therapy for use. Many of the applications are still experimental and still require more safety testing. Autologous applications of cell therapy where the cells are from the same lineage tend to be safer and effective than using donor cells or a mismatched cell type. The cell therapies currently offered by VetCell Therapeutics are autologous and also within the same tissue lineage of the tissues effected by the diseases we can currently treat. It is well established that adipose stem cells routinely support growth of bone and cartilage. However, one must carefully critique the production of cell therapies as well as the delivery of the therapy for it to be safe and effective.
While cell therapy adoption is on an upswing, not all cell therapies are created equal, and it’s certainly beneficial for medical practitioners to know the contents of the cell therapies they administer. At VetCell Therapeutics, we treat each case differently. By knowing the specifics about each patient and the complexity of the disease being treated, we are able to craft cell therapies containing a guaranteed count of specific cell types, ensuring the patient receives exactly what they need and nothing they don’t.
- Qizhi Tang, Jeffrey A. Bluestone and Sang-Mo Kang. CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory T cell therapy in transplantation. J Mol Cell Biol (2012) 4 (1): 11-21.
- Hiroyoshi Nishikawa, Shimon Sakaguchi. Regulatory T cells in cancer immunotherapy. Current Opinion in Immunology, Volume 27, April 2014, Pages 1–7
- Theresa L. Whiteside. Regulatory T cell subsets in human cancer: are they regulating for or against tumor progression? Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy. January 2014, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 67-72
- Jashodeep Datta, Erik Berk, Jessica A. Cintolo, Shuwen Xu, Robert E. Roses, and Brian J. Czerniecki, Rationale for a Multimodality Strategy to Enhance the Efficacy of Dendritic Cell-Based Cancer Immunotherapy. Front Immunol. 2015; 6: 271-81
- Sébastien Anguille, Evelien L Smits, Eva Lionb, Viggo F van Tendeloo, Zwi N Berneman, Clinical use of dendritic cells for cancer therapy. The Lancet Oncology, Vol 15, Issue 7, June 2014, Pages e257–e267
- Barker RA, Jain M, Armstrong RJ, Caldwell MA. Stem cells and neurological disease. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2003;74:553–7.
- Roopa R Nadig. Stem cell therapy – Hype or hope? A review. J Conserv Dent. 2009 Oct-Dec; 12(4): 131–138.