Breaking Down Allogeneic Cell Therapy: A New Path for Heart Treatment

Written by Adam Skali
Published on 08 April 2024
4 min. read

Tickets for our latest Healthcare 2.0 event, exploring the potential of cell and gene therapies, are available HERE.


The role of cell therapy in heart treatment

Cell-based therapy is a cutting-edge approach for treating heart problems, backed by over ten years of careful studies on cells and how they work. After completing initial safety trials, researchers are now looking at its efficacy in real medical situations. However, there are still important questions, such as the best way to administer cells, the optimal dosage, and the most effective cell types to use.

Making cell therapy a standard treatment requires an easy and effective method to safely deliver the correct amount of cells. Using allogeneic therapy, where cells from one person are used for another, seems like a promising option to make the treatment more widely available.

Allogeneic therapy is notable for its challenge to the common belief that the body will react negatively to foreign tissues, aiming to create treatments for otherwise lethal diseases. In cell therapy, especially with Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs), these cells seem to avoid or tone down the immune response, making them suitable for use without suppressing the immune system.

Allogeneic therapy offers a consistent and standard treatment because cells can be used from one donor or a carefully chosen group. This helps make the treatment more reliable, and as it becomes more standardised, it can also reduce costs compared to autologous therapies that depend on each patient’s unique traits.

One of the most important steps in allogeneic therapy is obtaining the cells, meaning that they should be readily available and that they can be manipulated in the laboratory without a need to extract every time. Among the different cell types, Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) are one of the most commonly used in allogeneic therapy. Sourcing of MSCs is relatively accessible, as they can be obtained from various tissues and expanded in culture for therapeutic use. This ease of access facilitates the development of standardised and scalable approaches in allogeneic therapy, ensuring a consistent and reliable supply of cells for treatment.

Why are Mesenchymal Stem Cells so important for allogeneic gene therapy?

Over a decade ago, studies hinted that Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) can control the immune system. Mesenchymal Stem Cells are a type of adult stem cell found in various tissues, such as bone marrow, adipose (fat) tissue, and umbilical cord. What makes MSCs valuable is their ability to transform into different cell types, such as bone cells, cartilage cells, and fat cells. Additionally, they possess unique properties that make them useful for allogeneic gene therapy.

MSCs are considered immunoprivileged, meaning they can avoid triggering a strong immune response when transplanted into a different person. This characteristic is crucial for allogeneic gene therapy, where cells from one individual are used to treat another. The immunoprivileged status of MSCs reduces the need for intense immunosuppressive treatments, making the therapy more practical and safer for widespread application.

Moreover, MSCs can produce various signalling molecules that modulate the immune system and have anti-inflammatory properties. This immunomodulatory ability further contributes to their suitability for allogeneic gene therapy, as it helps in reducing potential immune reactions and promoting a more favourable environment for successful treatment.

Allogeneic cell therapy in practice

In real-life testing, important trials have demonstrated the safety of administering allogeneic bone marrow-derived MSCs to individuals. In the first trial targeting acute heart attacks, administering MSCs intravenously not only avoided immune issues but also improved various aspects like heart function and overall health. A trial in patients with chronic heart problems showed similar safety between using the patient’s own cells and allogeneic cells.

The allogeneic cell therapy improved physical abilities and quality of life while reducing scar tissue and heart shape changes, indicating positive heart remodelling. Importantly, only a couple of patients receiving allogeneic cells developed sensitisation, a minor immune response.

Beyond MSCs, other cell types like heart stem cells show promise in treating heart problems. Even though allogeneic cardiac stem cell trials are rare, ongoing research is looking into this area. The future of allogeneic therapy holds the prospect of providing innovative, standardised, and efficient treatments, paving the way for advancements in healthcare and personalised medicine.

As we navigate the fascinating journey of cell and gene therapy, we invite you to join us for our latest Healthcare 2.0 event: State of the Art and New Frontiers in Cell & Gene Therapy. This gathering of world-leading experts will delve into the latest advancements, breakthroughs, and promising future that cell and gene therapies hold.

For more information and ticket registration click HERE!



Jansen Of Lorkeers, S. J., Eding, J. E., Vesterinen, H. M., van der Spoel, T. I., Sena, E. S., Duckers, H. J., Doevendans, P. A., Macleod, M. R., & Chamuleau, S. A. (2015). Similar effect of autologous and allogeneic cell therapy for ischemic heart disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of large animal studies. Circulation Research, 116(1), 80-86.

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