MSCs – Nature’s Pharmacy2017-08-25T22:12:56+00:00

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.”

“Medicinal Signaling Cell” — this is the term that should replace “Mesenchymal Stem Cell,” as described by the “Father of the Mesenchymal Stem Cell,” the very scientist who first isolated and named the cell.

Read Dr. Caplan’s full FDA testimony here.

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.” *

MSCs can differentiate into numerous cell types, but only if manipulated in the laboratory to do so. And this is not what we want them to do. This is not where their power lies. Study after study has shown that differentiation into new cells is not what MSCs are programmed to do. Their potency lies in their ability to tell other cells, which are already specialized, how to regenerate and differentiate into new tissue. MSCs have a unique ability to survey damaged tissue and to respond in extremely complex, absolutely precise, and keenly refined detail. In doing so, they also modulate the immune system and turn off inflammation – not everywhere, but only where appropriate. They are masters at what they do. There is no other type of cell that does what MSCs do. MSCs know how to produce all the right trophic factors – cytokines and other bioactive molecules – in the right place at the right time, in order to restore full health to bodily structure and function.

In fact, the trophic factors secreted by MSCs (known as mesenchymal trophic factors, or MTFs) have demonstrated such powerful anti-inflammatory and other healing properties, that clinical trials are currently underway to investigate the feasibility of treating various diseases and conditions with only the secreted factors, and not with the MSCs. This approach would allow the patients to receive the benefits of MSC therapy, but without the need to receive the MSC cells themselves — which in turn would allow for more widespread accessibility of treatment, as well as potentially lower costs. Not surprisingly, a number of biotech companies are capitalizing upon the potential commercialization and marketability of MTFs.

Unlike embryonic stem cells, unlike iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells), and unlike any other type of cell, MSCs have uniquely proven to have powerful regenerative as well as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-fibrotic, anti-tumorigenic, and numerous other beneficial properties, both in vitro and in vivo.

As Dr. Caplan states, above, MSCs will change the way medicine is practiced.

MSCs are Nature’s pharmacy!


* 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.