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Study reveals insights that could aid in therapeutic use of mesenchymal stem cells
Date:11/15/2012

BOSTON Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), are a newly emerging cellular therapy being tested in approximately 250 clinical trials worldwide to help repair damaged tissues, such as injured heart muscle following a heart attack. The problem is that when culture-expanded MSCs are injected into the circulation, they have trouble gaining access to the inflamed tissuesexactly where their help is needed.

Now, research led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) reveals new insights into how MSCs "traffic" from the circulation into the tissue, providing important clues that could be used to improve the delivery of this promising therapy. The findings are published in the November issue of the journal Stem Cells.

MSCs have great clinical potential due to their convenient isolation, their lack of significant immunogenicity (allowing for transplantation between individuals), their lack of ethical controversy, their potential to differentiate into tissue-specific cell types, and their ability to promote blood vessel growth. The cells can seek out and repair damaged tissue and treat inflammation resulting from cardiovascular disease, brain and spinal cord injury, cartilage and bone injury, Crohn's disease, and other conditions. Given the systemic nature of many diseases and the desire for minimally invasive therapies, systemic infusion of MSCs holds considerable promise as an effective treatment in many conditions.

But, as senior author Christopher Carman, PhD, explains, in order for MSCs circulating in the bloodstream to have any therapeutic effect, they must first cross the vascular endothelium, the layer of cells that line blood vessels and serve as the primary barrier between the blood and the tissues. Carman and co-corresponding author Jeffrey Karp, PhD, set out to answer the question, "How do MSCs interact with this layer?"

"Our basic approach was to grow isolated
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Contact: Bonnie Prescott
bprescot@bidmc.harvard.edu
617-667-7306
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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