The Future of Adipose Stem Cells – Part II

By on December 21, 2011

Many consider adipose stem cells (ASCs) as the next breakthrough stem cell type and as such, the scientific community has turned their attention towards harnessing their therapeutic potential. ASCs are believed to be similar to mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from bone marrow and to avoid confusion are defined from their tissue of origin (i.e. adipose tissue). The presence of these stem cells in several different tissues and their capacity to differentiate into several different cell types suggest that these cells play a pivotal role in the mediation of the repair response to damaged tissue (Porada, et al., 2010). It is these properties in combination with their non-immunogenicity, ease of ex vivo expansion in cell culture, and accessibility that has made them an attractive target for clinical applications.

Last month we looked at the technology behind adipose stem cells in the blog “The Future of Adipose Stem Cells – Part I” and this month we are examining real world applications. There are several biotechnology/biopharmaceutical companies investigating the therapeutic potential of ASCs as a viable treatment modality for cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and degenerative diseases, as well as an application in regenerative medicine for damaged tissue. Many of these companies are conducting clinical trial studies with autologous ASCs as personalized medicine to perhaps bypass the additional stringent federal regulations associated with allogeneic stem cells. Treatment with autologous ASCs will hopefully demonstrate the feasibility and efficacy of these stem cells and in turn, pave the way for use of allogeneic stem cells. In the future, allogeneic stem cells may have greater potential than autologous in terms of practicality for clinical manufacturing and distribution.

Some biotechnology/biopharmaceutical companies are utilizing ASCs as a treatment option for complex perianal fistulas, which are abnormal lesions that typically arise from inflammation. These abnormal lesions are usually corrected by surgery, but often reoccur and can be associated with gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s and Irritable Bowel Disease. For example, Cellerix is currently conducting a Phase III study to examine the therapeutic potential of ASCs as treatment to this condition (damaged tissue). Their technology platform involves the isolation and expansion of ASCs from adipose tissue derived from patients via liposuction, which is followed by an injection of the cell suspension to the site of injury or administered systemically. Cellerix is one of the few companies conducting clinical trial studies with both allogeneic and autologous ASCs for this particular disease. Their product pipeline includes the utilization of ASCs for a variety of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases with different local and systemic administration routes. It appears that Cellerix’s pipeline of expanded ASCs-based therapies illustrates the promising application of these stem cells.

Another company that is investigating ASCs as a potential therapeutic source is Cytori Therapeutics, which has targeted two therapeutic areas, cardiovascular disease and reconstructive surgery, for their clinical grade adipose stem cells. Their technology platform relies on a tissue processing system that isolates ASCs from the patient’s adipose tissue in order to administer the cells (i.e. concentrated stem cell population) to the site of injury. Cytori Therapeutics is currently conducting Phase I and II clinical trial studies of ASCs administered via the intracoronary route for treatment of Acute Myocardial Infarction. In addition, Cytori Therapeutics has completed a Phase IV study involving transplantation of autologous fat tissue infused with ASCs as reconstructive therapy for breast deformities resulting from various treatment regimens for breast cancer. These clinical trial studies will hopefully provide a meaningful solution to breast cancer patients seeking reconstructive cosmetic surgery after treatment.

These companies are just a small example of those who are endeavoring to elucidate the utility of ASCs as a therapeutic treatment modality and translate these findings into an effective and practical clinical therapy. Hopefully, their efforts will lead to success of ASCS-based therapies and fuel the progression of other stem cell type therapies within the stem cell and regenerative medicine field. “If autologous adipose stem cells can be successful, gain regulatory approval and win the public’s support, then it may open the door for many other stem cell types and broaden the reach of stem cell therapy.”

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