What do we know about stem cells? Well, for one, they are used in (purportedly) treating many human diseases. However, when we transplant them into the body, how sure are we that they actually hone into the area where they are needed the most.
A lot of studies have reported that their stem cell treatments are ineffective and part of the reason why that is true is that the stem cells did not bind on the site that the researchers want them to go to.
However, there is a new study that shows promising results and we might finally be able to secure the stem cells in a position where they’re going to most likely reside.
Sophia Khaldoyanidi, a stem cell biologist, said that Mesenchymal Stem Cells could provide a great avenue for tissue regeneration. Even though there is always that huge possibility, most clinical trials do not reach completion or a successful result.
Khaldoyanidi went on to say that that is probably due to the fact that we really did not study much about the stem cells and that we would go to test it without fully understanding its capabilities and potentialities.
Jeffrey Karp, a Bioengineer at Harvard Medical School, conducted the study that would revolutionize the use of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in clinical trials and applications.
The first thing he and his team did was to choose a good molecular receptor that would help with stem cell expression. They settled with CD11a due to the fact that it interacts with ICAM-1, which is a surface molecule that is usually expressed in sites of inflammation, as well as blood vessels. In Karp’s words, it is a universal endothelial cell signature at the site of inflammation. You could say that CD11a is a steroid without the harmful side effects.
Karp’s team went on to find a treatment regimen that would help initiate the expression of CD11a on the cells’ surface, so they teamed up with Sanofi to test over 9000 small molecules.
By using an antibody-based test to know the surface expression of CD11a, they chose 6 compounds for further testing. They also pretreated the cells with the chosen molecules to another screen that is placed in a flow chamber filled with ICAM-1 coated on the surface. This would result in a promising molecule that is known as the Ro-31-8425, a kinase inhibitor.
After finding out about the molecule, Karp and his colleagues collaborated with Charles Lin at Massachusetts General Hospital to help test kinase inhibitor.
After the saline injection on one ear and lipopolysaccharide on the other, the researchers then infused the pretreated MSCs into the mice’s bloodstreams.
Since the tissue inside the ear is thin, Karp and his team were able to use a powerful fluorescent microscope that would help them see the action. They found that the MSCs would go to the inflamed ear. This is done by exiting the blood vessels and then entering the tissue.
This study can provide the right information to make clinical trials using Mesenchymal stem cells a success.