MSCs — Nature’s Pharmacy
Medicinal Signaling Cells
To be entirely correct, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are not stem cells. They are perivascular cells with highly significant paracrine activity. Additionally, they have keen sensory capabilities, allowing them to assay their surrounding microenvironment, to which they respond accordingly.
In one study, conducted at Case Western Reserve University, it was found that when MSCs are introduced into injured tissue, the injured tissue which is immediately next to the MSCs begins making 90 different transcripts. In other words, the therapeutic proteins which heal the injured tissue originate from the injured tissue itself, not from the MSCs. The new, healthy tissue which is formed, is formed from the host tissue, not from the donor cells (the MSCs). It is the MSCs, though, the donor cells, which trigger the host tissue to produce the therapeutic proteins which heal the tissue. Without the MSCs, the host tissue would not be stimulated into action to heal the injury.
The importance of this phenomenon cannot be overemphasized. It represents a major shift in the fundamental understanding of how these cells work.
In the late 1980s, Dr. Arnold Caplan of Case Western Reserve University was the first person ever to isolate MSCs, from bone marrow, and expand them in culture. He is the one who named them “mesenchymal stem cells,” which, he now points out, is the wrong name. In his testimony before the FDA/CBER (Food and Drug Administration / Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research) in September of 2016, Dr. Caplan stated:
“In the late 1980s, I gave the term “Mesenchymal Stem Cells” to a cell which I was able to isolate from bone marrow, put into culture and expand in culture. That term is wrong, and I apologize for calling it a stem cell. It is not a stem cell. The assumption was that this cell was part of the stroma of marrow. This cell is not a part of the connective tissue or stroma of marrow, it is a perivascular cell, and as a perivascular cell it has a function only in cases of inflammation or injury. In this case, this cell comes off the blood vessel and does two things: from its front, it secretes a curtain of molecules which stop your overaggressive immune system from surveying the damaged tissue behind it. And from the back of the cell, it secretes a different group of factors which actually allow the tissue behind it to regenerate in a slow and unscarring process. This, therefore, is a cell which is medicinal in its function. And because I have such a delicate ego, I have written an article which asks my colleagues to continue to use the MSC nomenclature, but I’ve renamed this cell a “Medicinal Signaling Cell.” So therefore, when I lecture, I beg the audience to not use the stem cell nomenclature.”
Read more on the correct nomenclature of stem cells here.
As Dr. Caplan described in his testimony to the FDA, the power of the MSC does not lie in its ability to become a specific type of tissue, but rather, the power of the MSC lies in its secretome: that is, in the full range of bioactive molecules that it secretes, and it is these molecules which in turn trigger the innate, endogenous host cells to differentiate into whatever types of necessary tissue are required.
As Dr. Caplan further explains:
“MSCs are multifactorial site-specific sensors with genetically wired molecular responses. MSCs see a signal and they respond in a very controlled way. The management of innate regenerative potential is what they do. The MSC story will change the way medicine is practiced. Management of the patient’s innate regenerative resources will be the new treatment.” *
* Book by Dr. Neil Riordan, Stem Cell Therapy, A Rising Tide — How Stem Cells are Disrupting Medicine and Transforming Lives, interview with Dr. Arnold Caplan, p. 49.