Phase 1 trial finds MSCs stimulating host cartilage repair

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Based on recent findings that suggest an alternate function of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), researchers at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands have completed a Phase 1 clinical trial into tissue repair through MSC initiated trophic signaling. Results from the trial endorse the hypothesis that MSCs successfully stimulate a host regenerative response.

In this first-in-human trial , 35 patients were treated for cartilage defects in the knee. A mixture of allogeneic MSCs and autologous chondrons were applied to the patients, with no severe adverse effects reported along with the significant clinical outcomes. A number of tests were carried out to assess the efficacy of the treatment, including MRI and second-look arthroscopies, a biopsy and DNA short tandem repeat (STR) analysis. These demonstrated the consistent formation of newly grown cartilage, with high concentrations of proteoglycans and type II collagen (both key components of cartilage, as well as a confirmation of new tissue containing only patient DNA.
Together these findings build a strong case for the continued exploration of MSCs as a therapy route, not only in grafts but as a way of initiating positive host repair.

The full results of the trial have been published in the journal Stem Cells. According to the team who carried out the trial, their encouraging results offer a ‘paradigm shift in which MSCs are applied as augmentations or ‘signaling cells’ rather than differentiating stem cells and opens doors for other applications.’

Source: Allogeneic MSCs and Recycled Autologous Chondrons Mixed in a One-stage Cartilage Cell Transplantion A First-in-man Trial in 35 Patients. de Windt TS et al. Stem Cells June 2017. DOI