Stem Cell Therapy: Exactly, Doc, What is it?
Stem Cell therapies are one of the most promising areas of medicine today.
The aim of cell therapy is to support and repair damaged tissues and organs by providing healthy stem cell transplants. Bone marrow stem cell transplants for replacement and restoration of the haemopoietic system (blood and lymph) of cancer patients have been successfully used for the past 20 years.
Stem cells are generally described as cells that are capable of both self-renewal and differentiation. Stem cells have the ability to undergo asymmetric division such that one of the two daughter cells retains the properties of the stem cell, while the other begins to differentiate into a more specialized cell type. Stem cells are therefore central to normal human growth and development and a potential source of new cells for the regeneration of diseased and damaged tissue.
BrainStorm is developing cellular therapeutics based on stem cell technologies. The medical benefits afforded by stem cell therapies offer hope to millions of patients suffering from many types of neuro-degenerative diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Parkinson’s disease (PD), and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
NurOwn is our autologous, adult stem cell therapy technology that differentiates bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) into specialized, neuron-supporting cells.
These neuron-supporting cells (known as “MSC-NTF” cells) secrete neurotrophic, or nerve-growth, factors for PROTECTION of existing motor neurons, PROMOTION of motor neuron growth, and RE-ESTABLISHMENT of nerve-muscle interaction.
The ability to differentiate mesenchymal stem cells into MSC-NTF cells, and confirmation of their activity and potency before transplantation, makes NurOwn a first-of-its-kind approach for treating neurodegenerative diseases.
The NurOwn approach is autologous, or self-transplanted, using the patient’s own stem cells. It has a high safety profile, with no risk of rejection and no need for treatment with immunosuppressive agents, which can cause severe and/or long-term side effects. In addition, it is free of controversy associated with the use of embryonic stem cells in some countries.
The NurOwn Transplantation Process
A sample of the patient’s bone marrow is harvested, and the Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) are isolated.
The MSCs are then expanded and induced to differentiate into MSC-NTF cells.
The cells are then transplanted back into the patient – into the spinal cord or muscles.
The NurOwn technology is based on the scientific achievements of Professor Eldad Melamed, former Head of Neurology at Rabin Medical Center in Israel and Scientific Committee member of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and Professor Daniel Offen, Head of the Neuroscience Laboratory, Felsenstein Medical Research Center (FMRC) at Tel Aviv University.