New advances in cell therapy

Methods for treating diseases using native (not manipulated) and manipulated (modified) human cells are increasingly used in practical medicine. Among them the most widely used is hematopoietic stem cells transplant, nowadays it is one of the main methods of leukemias and lymphomas treatment as well as congenital immunodeficiencies, genetically caused diseases of hematopoiesis and metabolism. 

Annually, more than 50,000 hematopoietic stem cell transplants are performed worldwide. The bone marrow, peripheral blood (after preliminary stimulation of hematopoiesis), cord blood serve as stem cells sources. Since 2012, the annual number of cord blood transplants exceeds the number of such operations using bone marrow. In particular, more than 1,200 cord blood hematopoietic stem cells transplants are performed annually in Japan, and since 1999, the Japanese Cord Blood Bank Network has been operated in the country.

The first cord blood stem cells transplant in Japan was performed in 1994, and Japanese scientist Nakagata Tatsutoshi was one of the first in the world to prove that cord blood contains the hematopoietic stem cells. This scientist is now an adviser to the iPS Cell Research Center and for the discovery of IPS-cells another Japanese scientist Xinya Yamanaka was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2012. In Japan, approximately 15,000 cord blood transplants have been performed, accounting for 1/3 of the world’s total.

Trends in hematologic transplantology concerning umbilical cord blood application are the use of two or more samples in the treatment of adult patients, and increasingly the transplantation of cultured (multiplied) stem cells, performed to increase the cell number for individuals with large body weight, as well as cells with modified receptors for better engraftment. 

In the last decade, simultaneously with the use of hematopoietic stem cells, other methods of cell therapy have been intensively developed, involving the use of a population of mesenchymal stem cells from such sources such as the bone marrow, adipose tissue, peripheral blood, umbilical cord blood, umbilical cord, and amniotic fluid. Mesenchymal stem cells are used for 3 main purposes:

  • Treatment of autoimmune diseases (since MSCs have an immunosuppressive effect), in particular such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis;
  • Stimulation of engraftment of bone marrow or cord blood hematopoietic stem cells and suppression of transplant-versus-host syndrome manifestations;
  • Substrate for growth of tissues in the laboratory tissues, obtaining connective tissue derivatives (bone, cartilage, blood vessels, heart, teeth).

Other important areas are the study of iPS cells and CAR-T cells, the latter are the genetically modified T-lymphocytes with CRISPR method to kill certain types of malignant tumors, predominantly B-cell lymphoma.

Preservation of perinatal tissues (umbilical cord, placenta, umbilical cord) at the Cryobank after the childbirth is the only opportunity to obtain the stock of the young and most active stem cells of different populations that have numerous advantages over adult donor cell material.