Stem cells (MSCs) can be an important tool for the treatment of cancer. It has been shown, that, once injected intravenously, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), acquired either from bone marrow or from adipose tissue, migrate toward and distribute within distant tumor foci. In other words they show a tumor tropism. MSCs can home specifically to tumors including gliomas, breast, colon, ovarian, and lung carcinomas, among many other primary and metastatic tumors. In these models, MSCs have successfully homed to tumors from a large variety of administration routes including the carotid artery, femur, tibia, and trachea.
MSC tumor migration is motivated by many factors, including tumor cell-specific receptors and soluble tumor-derived factors such as stromal cell-derived factor-1, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-a, and interleukins, among other identified and unidentified inflammatory mediators. Therefore, in the context of tumor tropism, MSCs represent an excellent tool as cellular vehicle for local delivery of antitumor agents.
The delivery of drugs into the tumor remains however an issue when the stem cell model is used for the treatment of cancer. Once the cells reach the malignancy, they must release the therapeutic agent locally. Also, the delivery of these drugs must take place only within the tumor, so that other, healthy cells remain unaffected. To date there is no such an approach that exploits a) the use of stem cells for the transfer of therapeutic agents in human tumors and b) the manipulation of stem cells for the selective release of these agents directly into the malignancy.
Theracell is in the process of developing novel therapies for the treatment of cancer. These therapies make use of Adipose-Derived Stem Cells (ADSCs) and a special class of nanoparticles, referred to as Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles (SPIONs).