Institut Lady Davis pour la recherche médicale de l’hôpital général juif, Sir Mortimer B. Davis de Montréal, université McGill, 3755 chemin Côte Sainte-Catherine, Montréal, QC, Canada, H3T 1E2
The unique properties of stem cells are opening the door for the development of new therapeutic approaches notably in oncology and regenerative medicine. Embryonic stem cells are theoretically very promising for that purpose. However, autologous stem cells derived from blood and bone marrow are the ones which have been tested in clinical trials. Amongst these, adult mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) possess particularly attracting properties, as they are easily expanded in vitro and possess the potential to differentiate into multiple cell lineages. Moreover, MSCs can be genetically modified and utilized as a biopharmaceutical. Several research groups are currently investigating both the fundamental properties of MSCs and applicable therapies derived from their use, particularly in cardiology but also in cancer and immunomodulation. Recently, we described that under appropriate stimulation, MSCs can behave as potent antigen-presenting cells (APCs) which is of interest in our understanding of hematopoietic system immunobiology. In addition, the antigen-presenting functions of MSC could theoretically be exploited as a new therapeutic tool in cancer therapy in order to amplify immune responses against tumor-specific antigens. In addition, genetically-modified MSCs are widely tested in preclinical studies and we will here present our results regarding IL2-producing MSCs as an anticancer agent. In Canada, the activities within the field of progenitor and stem cell therapeutics has been consolidated within the National Canadian Stem Cell Network which groups researchers, clinicians, engineers and ethicists, all dedicated to study this new promising pharmaceutical avenue.