The World’s First Off-The-Shelf Stem Cell Treatment Launched By Australian Company
Leading cellular medicine company Mesoblast recently launched its first wave of stem cell products in Japan, with additional trials on the horizon in preparation for approval in the US next year.
An eagerly awaited milestone in stem cell therapy is reached, as residents of Japan become the first to access Temcell — an off-the-shelf stem cell treatment released through Mesoblast licensee JCR Pharmaceuticals.
As the first mass-produced stem cell product to be fully approved and released to market, Temcell provides treatment against a potentially fatal condition known as graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD).
GVHD is a complication which arises in recipients of donor stem cell or organ transplants, in which the newly transplanted donor cells attack the recipient’s body, causing damage to vital organs and compromising their immune systems.
The new Temcell treatment, which comes in bags containing 72 million living cells, is actually also developed from donor cells. However, these cells are adapted for transplantation and lack the distinguishing marks which would cause the body to treat them as foreign. Mesoblast claim this allows Temcell to be administered to patients without worry of rejection.
There are many more off-the-shelf stem cell treatments which Mesoblast and similar companies are developing, with advanced clinical trials for products that aim to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, chronic heart failure, and lower-back pain, already well underway. As the products are produced cheaply and in large batches, they resemble the model of typical drugs, and therefore could signify the widescale introduction of stem cell products into the mainstream pharmaceutical industry.
The Key Ingredient Of Temcell
“The launch of a mass-produced stem cell product is a huge achievement, but this particular one is just the tip of the iceberg.” —Robert Lanza, chief medical officer of Ocata Therapeutics in Marlborough, Massachusetts
Some researchers and experts believe in as little as a few decades stem cell products could be as commonplace as conventional drugs.
Already you can find stem cell treatments in the private market for some conditions which normally require drugs, physical therapy, or surgery. These aren’t ‘ready-made’ pre-packaged products, but rather procedures which collect and utilise your own stem cells — even performing the harvesting and transplantation within the same day.
It’s important to note as many of these treatments are using emerging technologies, they may not yet be regulated by drug administration authorities and should be considered with the right amount of due diligence.
One commonality between modern stem cell treatments — whether off-the-shelf or autologous — is the type of stem cell used: mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). These incredible building blocks of life offer a number of advantages over any other type of stem cell identified, recently overtaking hematopoietic stem cells as the most cited within scientific literature.
With a history of rejection shadowing the use of donor cells, it remains to be seen how effective off-the-shelf stem cell treatments can be. The benefits of using your own stem cells (autologous treatments) are well documented and clear — such as eliminating the chance of immune rejection and reducing the risk of infections, and so we can safely say this area will see a lot of progress and success over the coming years.
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