I recently represented Vitro Biopharma at the annual meeting of the International Society of Cellular Therapy in Seattle. Cellular therapy is the process of treating diseases & injury through cell transplantation or the induction of therapeutic cell generation by use of specific drugs. Blood transfusion, for example, is very common form of cellular therapy. Platelet therapy for injuries etc using platelet rich plasma represents a current extension of blood transfusion by using just a single type of blood cell. Modern cellular therapy includes numerous other cells including immune and stem cells. Provenge™ is an FDA-approved cell therapy for prostate cancer that uses a patient’s dendritic cells, a type of immune cell, that are collected, exposed to a prostate-specific molecule and given back to the patient for elimination of prostate cancer cells, basically through a targeted approach that selectively destroys cancer cells by introducing a “cellular drone” (dendritic cells primed with prostate molecules) that targets and destroys prostate cancer cells with minimal side effects.
Adult hematopoietic stem cells have been used for over 50 years as cell therapy for blood disorders including leukemia, lymphoma and auto-immune disorders through bone marrow transplants. Several studies show advanced clinical utility of adult stem cells known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in the treatment of a variety of conditions including Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease. An impressive Australian phase II clinical trial presented at ISCT showed effectiveness of MSCs in treating this disease that is now treated steroids or surgical removal of the GI tract. Both primary and secondary endpoints were met in this trial and a larger study is underway. It was interesting to note that embryonic stem cells that are so controversial on ethical grounds are now generally not considered viable candidates for cellular therapy since these cells tend to form tumors. Vitro Biopharma is focused on commercialization of MSC-related products for research and clinical studies. I presented a scientific session at the meeting based on our clinical grade MSC-GRO™, a cell culture medium for MSCs that we developed, manufacture and sell. Our presentation resonated well with attendees and we now have many new opportunities for increased revenues through partnerships, collaborations and new customer contacts. I think this will be a regular event for us since this meeting draws key scientists and business leaders involved with therapeutic applications of MSCs. Stem cell therapy based on MSCs shows tremendous potential to revolutionize medicine and we are fortunate to have extensive experience in this field and several highly competitive products as well as new products in development to offer this global and rapidly evolving market.