Despite its apparent infancy, cell-based regenerative medicine is not new. Stem cell based therapies in the form of bone marrow transplants have been used for over 40 years for the treatment of leukaemia. Similarly, epithelial stem cell based treatments have been widely used for many years for burns and corneal disorders.
The scope of potential cell-based therapies has expanded in recent years due to major steps forward in cell research and an increased understanding of the clinical applications of adult stem cells. One key discovery is that our bodies have a rich supply of regenerative cells, including mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that can be found in adipose tissue (fat). The supply of regenerative cells in adipose tissues provides a non-controversial source of adult MSCs and other regenerative cell types that can be used as a basis for developing new treatments for a range of inflammatory diseases, including orthopaedic disorders such as osteoarthritis, that arise through degenerative disease, injury and old age.
MSCs have the capacity to differentiate into specialised cell types like bone, cartilage and muscle to assist with regeneration and repair. They also have the capacity to secrete various compounds that can stimulate other cells to regenerate and repair.
Regeneus has developed intellectual property, skills and experience in the area of separation, preparation and use of adipose-derived regenerative cells for therapeutic purposes in humans and animals. These developments exist within two distinct product platforms:
- Cell-based platform, which is autologous and allogeneic;
- Secretions-based platform, which is allogeneic.
Regeneus has commercially launched an autologous cell therapy prepared in-clinic for the treatment of human musculoskeletal conditions called HiQCell® and two products for the treatment of canine and equine musculoskeletal conditions called AdiCell® and CryoShot®. AdiCell is an autologous cell therapy prepared in-clinic while CryoShot is an off-the-shelf cell therapy prepared from donor regenerative cells (allogeneic).
Regeneus has found it very effective to first introduce new therapies through the veterinary market as it represents a good market proxy and provides a good testing ground for obtaining important data and evidence for introducing similar products for the human market. The proprietary AdiCell procedure was introduced to the animal health market in 2008 for canine orthopaedic conditions and has been used by veterinarians to treat over 400 animals with successful treatment outcomes. AdiCell was extended in 2010 to equine conditions with similar successful treatment outcomes.
Cell-Based Regenerative Medicine
Stem cells are the foundation cells for every organ, tissue and cell in the body. Stem cells are undifferentiated or "blank" cells that have not yet fully specialised. Stem cells are part of the tissue repair mechanism found in all mammalian tissue types. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or differentiate into a specific cell type with a specialised function, such as a bone, cartilage or muscle cell, a red blood cell or a neuron. These characteristics distinguish stem cells from other cell types. They also have the capacity to secrete various compounds that can stimulate other cells to regenerate and repair.
There are many different types of stem cells. These include embryonic stem cells that exist only at the earliest stage of embryonic development and can form all cell types of the body. There are various types of "adult" or "tissue-specific" stem cells that exist in a number of different adult tissues like bone marrow and adipose (fat) tissue. It is known that different types of stem cells have different potential in regard to the cell types they can become. Regeneus only uses adult stem cells.
Stem Cell Therapy
Both HiQCell and AdiCell are unique autologous (derived from the same individual's body) regenerative treatments. They are relatively simple procedures that use regenerative cells including mesenchymal stem cells taken from the patient's own adipose (fat) tissue through mini liposuction (HiQCell) or excision of adipose tissue (AdiCell). The procedure then involves the processing of the adipose tissue to prepare a cell suspension and injecting this mixture of cells which contain mesenchymal stem cells along with other cell types to help repair and regenerate the affected sites by replacing lost or damaged cells, reducing inflammation, improving the function of cells at the site and recruiting cells from other parts of the body to assist in these processes.
The potential of regenerative cell-based therapies has expanded in recent years due to major steps forward in cell research. One key discovery is that our bodies have a rich supply of regenerative cells that can be found in adipose (fat) tissue.
The supply of regenerative cells in adipose tissue provides a non-controversial source of adult stem cells that can be used as a basis for developing new treatments for a range of inflammatory diseases, including orthopaedic conditions like osteoarthritis that arise through degenerative disease, injury and old age.
Adipose tissue is filled with cells called adipocytes. Adipocytes are cells that store fat. It has recently been recognised that these adipocytes play an important cell-signalling role and secrete a range of substances that effect many parts of the body. Running throughout the adipose tissue is a network of capillaries that deliver nutrients and oxygen to the adipocytes and carry away the secretions. Hanging off the capillaries, like bunches of grapes on a vine, are large numbers of cells that are not adipocytes. These cells include mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which form a key part of adipose cell-based treatments.
Stem cells are present in adipose tissue in surprisingly high numbers. One gram of fat will contain up to 1,000,000 MSCs. In comparison, the same amount of bone marrow will contain less than 1,000 MSCs. The large numbers and ready availability of MSCs in adipose tissue has resulted in a number of treatments where there is no need to expand or culture the cells.
Stem cells are not the only cells that are attached to the capillaries. There are endothelial progenitor cells known to be involved in angiogenesis (increased blood supply to tissue), monocytes and macrophages that secrete anti-inflammatory cytokines, pericytes, mast cells, preadipocytes, fibroblasts, and smooth muscle cells. The HiQCell and AdiCell procedures utilise this entire mixture of cells along with adipocytes and the MSCs.