We blogged several months ago about bottlenecks in the bioprocessing of Mesenchymal Stem Cells that are impeding their clinical translation. While the development of robust and scalable manufacturing methods, reduced cost of goods, and implementation of solid Quality Systems are all necessary for increased clinical use of MSCs, there are also current misconceptions surrounding MSCs, rooted in decades-old science, that are holding the field back. I recently came across a paper from last year on this topic and decided to put it forth for discussion here – with a few targeted opinions from us scientists at RoosterBio. It is my hope that you’ll provide your own opinions on the misconceptions detailed here, as well as your suggestions on other misconceptions you think could be holding the MSC field back.
The authors of the 2013 Cytotherapy Paper: Mesenchymal stromal cells: misconceptions and evolving concepts, Donald Phinney and Luc Sensebé, identify six major misconceptions that have persisted over the years, despite widely-accepted paradigm shifts on MSC nature and function. Here, I will summarize four of these misconceptions and add our take to them.
Four of the misconceptions identified by Phinney and Sensebé:
1. MSCs isolated from different tissues are equivalent
Initially isolated from bone marrow in the 1950s, MSCs were then discovered in adipose tissue, and have since been found in a number of tissues including, but not limited to: Wharton’s jelly, umbilical cord blood, placenta, amnion, and dental pulp. While MSCs from all these sources are somewhat similar in surface profile marker expression, phenotype, and gene expression profiles, their functionality, in terms of differentiation potential, immunomodulatory activity, and paracrine factor secretion, can vary widely depending on the tissue of origin. ** Given that MSCs from a single tissue and donor are not equivalent (see below), it comes as no surprise that MSCs from different tissues vary in function! **