Working Together, Finding Cures

Magic of the Mesenchymal Stromal Cell

by Jennifer Chain, Ph.D.

A specialized type of stem cell called a mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) is primarily found in bone marrow, and to a lesser extent in placenta, fat, teeth, and blood. These cells have the potential to develop into many tissue types throughout the body like bone, cartilage, muscle, and skin. They also control immune responses, promote wound healing, and support tissue regeneration. Inside the bone marrow, MSCs provide support for hematopoietic progenitor cell (HPC) development into blood cells. The diverse developmental potential and functions of MSCs make them ideal for a wide variety of therapeutic uses.

There are thousands of research and clinical studies underway analyzing the ability of MSCs to prevent transplant graft attack on host tissue, control the development of autoimmune diseases, and promote tissue healing from heart attack, stroke, spinal cord injuries, liver disease, chronic wounds, and many other injuries and disorders. However, it is currently difficult to obtain enough MSCs to meet the growing demand for research and therapy use.

To address this problem, the Oklahoma Blood Institute is partnering with LifeShare of Oklahoma to collect bone marrow from deceased tissue donors, grow MSCs from bone marrow in our facilities, and make MSCs available to our community scientists for use in research and therapy development. In Oklahoma Blood Institute's Bio-Development Division, we are conducting several research studies to grow and characterize MSCs from deceased donors and demonstrate their potential for therapy use. This work will increase the supply of MSCs available to clinical scientists to use in therapies focused on wound healing and tissue regeneration, as well as for treatments of autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.