Cell therapy is the administration of viable, often purified cells into a patient’s body to grow, replace, or repair damaged tissue for the treatment of a disease. A variety of different types of cells can be used in cell therapy, including hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells, skeletal muscle stem cells, neural stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells (adult stem cells that differentiate into structures as connective tissues, blood, lymphatics, bone, and cartilage), lymphocytes, dendritic cells, and pancreatic islet cells.
Cell therapies may be autologous, meaning that the patient receives cells from their own body, or they may be allogenic, meaning the patient receives cells from a donor. Allogeneic cell therapies are often referred to as “off-the-shelf” therapies, as they are derived from a donor who is not the patient, enabling advance preparation and available to the patient immediately at the time of need.
Many cell-based therapies currently being developed utilize induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Unlike embryonically-derived pluripotent stem cells, these are adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed back into a pluripotent state, capable of becoming one of many types of cells inside a patient’s body. This technology may enable the development of an unlimited type of a specific type of human cells needed for therapeutic purposes.
Examples of ARM members active in developing cell therapies include: