ReviewHEALTH AND MEDICINE

Shattering barriers toward clinically meaningful MSC therapies

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Science Advances  22 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 30, eaba6884
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba6884

Abstract

More than 1050 clinical trials are registered at FDA.gov that explore multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) for nearly every clinical application imaginable, including neurodegenerative and cardiac disorders, perianal fistulas, graft-versus-host disease, COVID-19, and cancer. Several companies have or are in the process of commercializing MSC-based therapies. However, most of the clinical-stage MSC therapies have been unable to meet primary efficacy end points. The innate therapeutic functions of MSCs administered to humans are not as robust as demonstrated in preclinical studies, and in general, the translation of cell-based therapy is impaired by a myriad of steps that introduce heterogeneity. In this review, we discuss the major clinical challenges with MSC therapies, the details of these challenges, and the potential bioengineering approaches that leverage the unique biology of MSCs to overcome the challenges and achieve more potent and versatile therapies.

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