Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are of great therapeutic interest because they are already known to be not only regenerative but also immune privileged and immune modulatory, unlike most stem cells. Such characteristics eliminate any need for matching MSCs immunologically to the recipient, and because of these "immune privileged" properties, the biotech company Osiris Therapeutics holds a number of patents on MSCs for a variety of allogeneic uses of MSCs such as the intravenous delivery of these stem cells in the treatment of patients with heart failure. Now the extraordinary properties of MSCs have been applied to yet another medical application, namely, to expediting the process of wound healing.
Dr. Yoshikawa and colleagues at the Nara Medical University in Japan have successfully mimicked an artificial dermis layer by culturing bone marrow-derived MSCs on a collagen sponge from which the layer of dermal cells was then implanted subcutaneously into an immune-compromised mouse and explanted after ten days, at which time histological examination revealed the differentiation of the MSCs into dermal tissue in vivo.
The procedure was then applied to 20 human patients who were suffering from pathological skin conditions that were refractory to conventional medical therapies, and for whom the same type of autologous "grafts" were applied to the wound areas after having been created from each patient’s own bone marrow-derived MSCs and the collagen matrix. From this procedure, 18 of the 20 patients were found to have significantly improved.
The procedure offers a promising new therapy for even some of the most severe types of wounds.