A colorful illustration of a cell with a central nucleus and porous membrane, surrounded by glowing orbs.

Culturing Mesenchymal Stem Cell

REVISITING THE CONCEPT OF CULTURING MESENCHYMAL STEM CELLWe now know that the newest scientific literature is pointing to the fact that one type of cell will not be as effective as many different types of cells when we are attempting to accomplish repair by using stem cells. It is becoming more and more evident that the culturing of stem cells may not be needed. I have stated in previous blogs and on my website other drawback with cell cultures. These include rapid aging of the cells leading to telomere damage and a cell that is not functioning well. When we culture cells we are only culturing one type of cell. The cultured stem cell is a more mature type cell which therefore loses some of its regenerative qualities. More importantly, we would have to culture multiple cell types at the same time. This is not only impracticable but it is probably not attainable with our current knowledge. There is very strong scientific evidence that one type of cell implanted into an area typically will not be successful. A scientific article was recently published that showed if mesenchymal stem cells were implanted into mice that received sub-lethal doses of radiation very little happened. When hematopoietic stem cells (these are the stem cells that produce blood products and have the ability to turn into other types of cells) were injected into the mice there was a significant response to these cells. When both types of cells were injected the results were much better. What this shows us is that mesenchymal stem cells are not the omnipotent cells we once thought they were. In many scientific circles the mesenchymal cells are now not even considered stem cells. The scientific literature is rapidly moving into this pathway of thinking.

Recently, I was just in Russia lecturing at an orthopedic meeting and a few of the speakers were still regurgitating the concept that mesenchymal stem cells were the drivers of tissue regeneration. It is too bad the these doctors who are supposed to teach the subject to other doctors really only have a cursory view of the stem cell world. It was quite obvious from their lectures that they did not have a good grasp of the subject and were ill prepared when discussing stem cells and their effects. It is sort the blind leading the blind. These doctors stumbled into success by using bone marrow aspirate concentrate which is a cornucopia of different types of stem cells. In general bone marrow concentrate has relatively low numbers of mesenchymal stem cells. Their success resulted from the biologic soup of the concentrated bone marrow which is a combination of the various different cells especially the hematopoietic stem cells. They were successful in spite of themselves. Luckily, myself and my good friend Dr. David Harrell of Boston set the stage straight with our lectures giving the accurate science as to how stem cells work. Dr. Harrell is one of the most knowable PhD stem cell scientists that I know. He works for Harvest Technologies as their chief scientific officer. He is a treasure trove of information concerning stem cells. When I wonder about something he is one of sources I turn to.

If these other presenting doctors had done their homework they would have been acquainted with the work of Dr. Caplan the discover of mesenchymal stem cells. Dr. Caplan now says the mesenchymal stem cells are not the drivers of regeneration as he once thought. Dr. Caplan now feels that mesenchymal stem cells should be considered Medicinal Signaling Cells. THEY DO NOT CAUSE THE REGENERATION OF TISSUE BUT PREPARE THE CELL ENVIRONMENT TO ALLOW THE HEMATOPOIETIC CELLS TO ACCOMPLISH REPAIR.

Most attempts at culturing cells involves mesenchymal stem cells. When we look at this concept from a scientific point of view this does not make much sense. Facilities that culture mesenchymal stem cells may have some successes most likely from the effect of the various cytokines or growth factors that the mesenchymal stem cells produce. Perhaps as a lasting analogy, think of bone marrow as a symphony orchestra. If we decided that we wanted to grow (culture) the orchestra by only adding trumpet musicians the sound would be less desirable. However if we increased the total number of musicians in equal proportions the sound would be better. The same holds true with stem cells. Thanks Dr. P


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