What are Mesenchymal Stem /Stromal Cells (MSC)?
Mesenchymal cells (or Mesenchymal Stromal Cells) are derivatives of Stem Cells which exist in humans and have the potential to differentiate into a range of tissue forming cells to “manufacture” muscle, tendon, ligament and bone tissue (amongst other tissues, even nerve cells).
What are Progenitor Cells?
These are mature subsets of Stem Cells (including Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cells) which have more restricted potential for regenerating more specific tissues, such as bone, cartilage or connective tissue.
How do Mesenchymal Stem / Stromal Cells Work?
MSCs can become different kinds of tissue cells such as bone or cartilage. Stem cells can also work by secreting a variety of chemicals such as growth factors and cytokines.
In theory they work directly at the site they are injected, although this remains unproven. The concentration of stem cells then works directly at the site of injury or degenerative tissue where they are re-injected to help the area heal itself.
Where are Mesenchymal Stem Cells found?
MSCs are found in higher concentrations Bone Marrow, Adipose (fat) tissue as well as in amniotic fluid and the umbilical cord (Wharton’s Jelly).
Adipose tissue contains many times (1000s) more regenerative cells than bone marrow (whose effectiveness has been established for a long time), they also release numerous signal substances that are thought to play an important role in controlling and accelerating tissue repair and regeneration.
What conditions can Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cell therapy benefit?
The use of MSCs is unproven and remains experimental. In theory it can be effective in a range of musculoskeletal conditions to help the body heal itself, by repair and regeneration of localised tissue. This may include treatment of “wear and tear” or post trauma osteo-arthritis in any joint. It may in theory also be effective in damaged or degenerate soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments. This currently remains unproven and has not been licensed for use by NICE.