Jan 21 2015

The Form-Changing Magic of Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs)

Posted by Martin Smithmyer

Unlike hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which are now used to treat about 80 blood- and bone-related diseases, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) aren’t currently utilized for stem cell therapy. Yet scientists are very excited about MSCs, and hundreds of clinical trials are currently underway to test their safety and effectiveness. What’s so great about MSCs?


MSCs are found in many tissues of the body, but they’re easily accessible in the in the umbilical cord and especially abundant in the placenta. They can differentiate into many different types of cells—bone, fat, cartilage, muscle, and stromal cells (which support blood formation). In the lab, MSCs have even been found to differentiate into pancreatic, retinal, and nerve cells.


MSCs have a great capacity for self-renewal, expanding (replicating) 25-30 times without losing their ability to differentiate. It may be possible to create sufficient quantities of MSCs in the lab to treat adults or perform multiple treatments.


What Are Some Potential Uses of MSCs?

MSCs lessen harmful immune reactions and reduce inflammation by secreting cytokines (immune system messengers).That could make them extremely useful in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac, Crohn’s disease, and lupus.


In animal studies, MSCs have been successfully used to treat many different disorders and diseases, including lung fibrosis, diabetes, and vascular disease. Early trials have shown MSCs can replace damaged tissues as well.


Such is the excitement around MSCs that about 350 clinical (human) trials of MSCs have been registered worldwide. About half of these are phase II studies, in which a group of people is treated to see if the therapy is effective and safe. A few studies have even moved into phase IV, which are done post-treatment to evaluate long-term effects.


With all the promise shown by MSCs, banking your placenta tissue is a wise form of insurance. Americord prepares your placenta for storage using our proprietary method, which allows a cryo-preserving chemical maximum access to the MSCs in the placenta tissue.

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