STELLAR at the 5th MISOT meeting

The Fifth Expert Meeting of the Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Solid Organ Transplantation (MiSOT) Consortium took place in Bergamo on March 20 and 21, 2014.

The majority of the STELLAR members were present and actively contributed to the symposium either as speakers, and/or chairperson to one or more of the sessions.

The ageing population and the increase in people suffering from diabetes and hypertension have led to an ever increasing demand for kidney donor organs. The search for new methods to circumvent the use of scarce donor organs is a priority for researchers in the field. In the STELLAR project research focuses on the novel concept that the interaction of interstitial stromal cells with the local immune system may regulate tissue homeostasis and the balance between tissue repair and fibrosis. MSC residing in the kidney may enhance the intrinsic reparative capabilities of the kidney. In STELLAR the potential use of these kidney MSC for the treatment of patients with kidney disease is investigated.

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Ton Rabelink, the coordinator of the STELLAR consortium, discussed the intrinsic reparative capabilities of kidney derived Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (MSC) thereby showing  the latest results from the STELLAR project.

Martino Introna, in STELLAR responsible for the production of MSC derived from umbilical cord, elaborated on the hurdles that need to be taken when running a GMP production facility in a public hospital context for the expansion of MSC. His MSC have so far been used in a number of phase I/II clinical trials focusing on patients suffering from Graft versus Host Disease after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, for the reduction of immunosuppressive therapy in renal failure patients undergoing kidney transplants and for the therapy of Multiple Sclerosis patients.

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Marlies Reinders, STELLAR member and clinician showed results from a clinical trial in which patients receive MSC after the first signs of possible kidney rejection following kidney transplantation. She also presented a new study that will be started at the Leiden University Medical Centre which will test the hypothesis that MSC will facilitate the reduction of immunosuppression, reduce fibrosis and decrease the incidence of opportunistic infections in patients receiving a kidney transplant.

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Giuseppe Remuzzi, the host of the STELLAR and MISOT meetings briefly discussed his results obtained when treating kidney transplant patients with MSC. To gain more insight in the clinical observations of his team they investigated the mechanisms of MSC infusion in a murine kidney transplant model. Results from these preclinical studies indicate that pre-kidney transplant infusion of MSC induced a prolonged survival of the kidney graft.

Question on when to administer MSC: pre- or post-transplantation, what MSC to use: allogeneic or autologous, derived from which tissue source and whether they should be fresh or frozen were discussed during the meeting. The need for a more standardized clinical protocol was discussed. These topics will be on the agenda for the next MISOT meeting that will be hosted by STELLAR coordinator Ton Rabelink in the Netherlands.

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