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Mesenchymal Stem Cells Used as Drug Carrier


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In a study published in the journal PLoS ONE and conducted by Augusto Pessina of the Department of Public Health, Microbiology and Virology of Milan University and Giulio Alessandri of the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, directed by Eugenio Parati of the Carlo Besta Neurological Institute of Milan, and Catholic University Sacro Cuore it has been demonstrated, for the first time, that human mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow can be loaded “in vitro” with chemotherapeutic drugs and then used to treat tumors with high efficacy. These cells represent a new pharmacological device ( CellPharm®), patented by Besta Institute .

The device can be prepared by simple and economical procedures without genetic manipulation. In this way, it avoids related risk while providing more specific therapies with minor collateral effects. Importantly, the biological character ( to be drug loaded) of this new discovery seems to be shared by other cell populations ( such as fibroblasts, dendritic cells, monocytes and macrophages) present in blood and easy to isolate from patients.

The possibility to use cells from bone marrow, adipose or other tissues from the patient-donor (autologous use) eliminates immunological risk and also reduces the danger of pathogen agents transmission. The experimental demonstration of the efficacy of the method has been reported in tumors, but it can be applied to target other pathologies that require increasing drug delivery in specific tissues or organs.

The confirmation that the CellPharm® device maintains its therapeutic function even after storage in liquid nitrogen suggests its possible “banking”. The drug loaded cells could be used, for the same patient-donor, even a long time after their preparation ( eg: in the case of recidive).

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