The first stem cell therapy that was developed in the University of Wisconsin-Madison laboratory and entered clinical trial has recently been announced to be beneficial to patients as well as safe by the company overseeing the experimental treatment.
In August 2018, Australia-based Cynata reported that 15 patients in England received the stem cell therapy which is a complication of bone marrow transplants involving attack of the recipient’s body by the donor cells. The therapy is known as graft versus host disease (GVHD). Fourteen out of the fifteen patients demonstrated improvement in their GVHD and for eight of them, all symptoms and signs of the condition were found to have diminished. Phase 1 for the trial was concluded recently with no concerns for safety of the therapy.
According to reliable sources, the therapy was developed on the basis of research by UW-Madison pathologist, Dr. Igor Slukvin. Dr. Slukvin, also a co-founder of Cynata, solved the problem of the direct inducement of pluripotent stem or iPS cells that can grow into an uninterrupted supply of mesenchymal stem cells or blood cells found in bone marrow.
Slukvin patented the technology through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation which was then licensed by Cynata. Waisman Biomanufacturing, which is part of the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, produced the cells used in the clinical trial. Waisman Biomanufacturing is a clean-room facility that grows clinical cells required for human trials.
Sources cite that patients participating in the study had GVHD that were steroid-resistant or did not respond to steroids. Mesenchymal stem cells are presumed to be effective in modulating the immune system and treating the life-threatening condition but prior to the concerned clinical trial doctors have faced difficulties in obtaining reliable supply of such cells from donors.
Dr. Slukvin has been quoted to say that with the use of iPS cells, an unlimited amount of mesenchymal stem cells can be produced by a single donor. He added that iPS cells alleviate GVHD and subdue abnormal activation of the immune system.