The Role of Cell Therapy in Medicine

Prof. Slavin at CTCI is a cell therapy pioneer with more than 25 years of experience in clinical application of procedures involving the use of blood lymphocytes at the patient’s bedside.

Cell therapy technologies and methods have already started to play an important role in the practice of medicine for both malignant and non-malignant disorders as well as for regenerative medicine. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation with reduced intensity conditioning is replacing out-of-date conventional bone marrow transplants which use aggressive conditioning, and use of lymphocytes to eliminate cancer cells resistant to chemotherapy is becoming a most important tool for eradication of cancer in patients with minimal residual disease. Cell therapy is bound to become a part of routine medical practice. At present, different kinds of cell therapies (including CTCI’s cell therapies) are available in different countries and locations, depending upon local regulations.

While controversy about the potential uses of embryonic sources of stem cells persists, none of these is clinically relevant yet. Meanwhile, adult – that is to say post-natal – sources are being used clinically for an increasing number of indications. Stem cells can be derived from sources such as the placenta, cord blood and fat removed by liposuction. Stem cells can also be genetically modified prior to transplantation.

Cell therapy technologies overlap with those of gene therapy, cancer vaccines, drug delivery, and tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Various types of cells are currently used for treatment of malignant and non-malignant indications and for regenerative medicine. The most important clinical applications to date are diseases of the nervous system and cancer. Others include orthopedic indications for replacement of cartilage and new bone formation or treatment of complex fractures, cardiac disorders (myocardial infarction and heart failure), diabetes mellitus, genetic disorders, and repair of wounds of the skin and soft tissues as well as for esthetic indications.

Regulatory and ethical issues involving cell therapy are important and may limit the use of some of the procedures in certain countries. Safety is an essential consideration for any new therapy and regulations for cell therapy are important for safe clinical application of innovative modalities.

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