Autologous Cell Therapy: Current Treatments and Future Prospects
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Abstract: Autologous cell therapy (ACT) is a novel therapeutic intervention that uses an individual’s cells, which are cultured and expanded outside the body, and reintroduced into the donor. Advantages of such an approach include the minimization of risks from systemic immunological reactions, bio-incompatibility, and disease transmission associated with grafts or cells not cultivated from the individual. So far, this form of therapy has been used successfully to bioengineer skin substitutes, aid wound healing, counteract chronic inflammation, treat burns and pressure ulcers, and improve postoperative healing. The authors will review the promising outcomes of various therapeutic interventions using ACT, as well as the concerns raised with using explanted material, and any potential alteration through the cultivation process. This review will discuss its role in assisting the healing process of conditions such as a damaged myocardium, developing hyaline cartilage, and in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and other ailments that benefit from the immediate availability of a donor. The use of ACT for cosmetic enhancement or corrective surgery is also gaining recognition as a creditable form of treatment and has been shown to reduce the risk of rejection and to have longer lasting effects than conventional treatments. This form of treatment is under intense investigation with the hope that it will eventually be able to replace conventional forms of plastic surgery to improve the repair process of aging or damaged tissues.
Address correspondence to:
Batool Kazmi, PhD
Eastman Dental Institute
University College of London
256 Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1X 8LD
Phone: 079 4046 0423
Over the past few decades, since the bioengineering revolution, autologous cell therapy (ACT) has become a rapidly evolving field. From the discovery of plasmids as vectors for bulk protein cultivation in 1973, and the production of recombinant human insulin in 1978, to the construction of the world’s first artificial cornea in 1999, biosynthetic ailments to human conditions have been of great revelation and interest in the scientific industry.
One of the greatest success stories of modern medicine has been the advent of organ transplantation. As life expectancy in the developed world increases, the expiration of body tissues and organs through attrition, disease, or even trauma, is inevitable. Despite its ability to either restore a normal standard of living or extend life, organ transplantation is plagued with its fair share of problems. Almost a victim of its own success, the body’s immune system can sometimes recognize the foreign entity and reject the new tissue or organ regardless of patient matching and immunosuppressive drugs. Such consequences and shortages in supply have increased interest in regenerative and autologous therapies.
Although many cells respond to signaling and stimuli in the body, they can also be cultivated outside the human body in Petri dishes and culture flasks. Tissue engineering techniques allow cell types to be grown in isolation using defined media for optimal growth. Such a capacity allows for the culture and study of cells more closely and independently of the organ from which they are a part. More impressively, this enables a small number of cells taken from an individual to be expanded outside the body and reintroduced into the donor for therapeutic intervention.
Autologous cell therapy is composed of various technologies and disciplines ranging from cellular and molecular biology to virology; however, this review will focus primarily upon cell and tissue based therapies.
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