An argument made in the popular media is that adult stem cells are healing people "today", whereas embryonic stem cells are a thing of the future. In priniciple this is correct, however, my stomach turns when the proponents of adult stem cells use the example of "bone marrow transplantation". Bone marrow transplantation, while it is a sort of "stem cell therapy", it is not "regenerative" therapy in the strictest senst. In other words, if people are going to argue that adult stem cells are "better" than embryonic stem cells, they should use examples of diseases in which the bone marrow stem cell performs a "regenerative activity". For example, in bone marrow transplant, the stem cell is not curing the leukemia...it is only providing new cells so that chemotherapy/radiotherapy can be used at very high concentrations that normally would kill the person.
In our opinion, a "true" regenerative example of adult stem cells being clinically useful is in heart failure, or more accurately, in preventing progression to heart failure after people have heart attacks. Studies have demonstrated that the use of a patient's own bone marrow stem cells, after an infarct has positive benefits in the short term, and in long term studies.
The use of "universal donor" stem cells for cardiac conditions is in some ways more attractive than autologous cells, primarily because autologous cells are limited in terms of proliferative capacity and endothelial forming ability due to old age and atherosclerosis associated with heart failure, which depletes the stem cell compartment. Bone marrow derived universal donor cells, such as those generated by Osiris, have demonstrated benefit in post-infarct remodelling.
The current patent teaches the use of cord blood derived human unrestricted somatic stem cells (USSCs) for cardiac regeneration. In the one issued claim, the inventors cover:
A method for treating a cardiac muscle disease in a human patient in need of treatment for cardiac muscle disease, said method comprising administering to said patient isolated human unrestricted somatic stem cells (USSCs) from umbilical cord blood, wherein said USSCs are negative for the CD14 and CD45 antigens and positive for the CD13, CD29, CD44 and CD49e antigens, and wherein said USSCs express fibulin-2 and lack expression of hyaluronan synthase and fibromodulin, whereby said USSCs regenerate cardiac muscle cells in the heart of said patient and thereby treating said disease.