Cell-based therapy refers to the therapeutic use of cells to restore or improve the function of damaged tissues or organs.
These cells can be sourced from the patient (autologous) or from a donor (allogeneic).
Cell-based therapies have generated significant interest due to their potential in treating a wide range of diseases and conditions, especially those for which conventional therapies are not effective.
Some of the key areas of cell-based therapies include:
Stem Cell Therapy: Stem cells have the potential to become any cell type in the body. They can be derived from various sources, including embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and adult stem cells (e.g., hematopoietic stem cells from bone marrow or mesenchymal stem cells from adipose tissue). Their potential applications include treating degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, and heart diseases.
T-cell Immunotherapy: In this approach, a patient’s T cells (a type of immune cell) are collected, genetically modified to target specific cancer cells, expanded in large numbers, and then re-infused into the patient. The most well-known example of this is CAR-T (Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell) therapy, which has shown promising results in treating certain types of leukemia and lymphoma.
Regenerative Medicine: This field aims to replace or regenerate human cells, tissues, or organs to restore or establish normal function. It encompasses both stem cell therapies and tissue engineering.
Organoid and 3D Tissue Models: Using stem cells, researchers can now grow organ-like structures in the lab known as organoids. These can be used for drug testing, disease modeling, and potentially for transplantation in the future.
Cell Therapy for Autoimmune Diseases: Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is an example where stem cells from a patient’s blood or bone marrow are used to reset the immune system and prevent it from attacking the body, as seen in conditions like multiple sclerosis.
Cell-based Vaccines: Some vaccines are developed using cells as a platform to produce viral proteins, which are then used to stimulate an immune response.