Background: Therapies based on mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) have been shown to have potential benefit in several clinical studies. We have shown that, using a medium-based approach, MSC can be induced to secrete elevated levels of neurotropic factors, which have been shown to have protective effects in animal models of neurodegenerative diseases. These cells, designated MSC-NTF cells (Neurotrophic factor-secreting MSC, also known as NurOwn™) derived from the patient's own bone marrow, have been recently used for Phase I/II and Phase IIa clinical studies in patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). In these studies, ALS patients were subjected to a single administration of autologous MSC-NTF cells. The data from these studies indicate that the single administration of MSC-NTF cells is safe and well tolerated. In a recently published case report, it was shown that repeated MSC-NTF injections in an ALS patient treated on a compassionate basis were safe and well tolerated [Muscle Nerve 49:455-457, 2014].
Methods: In the current study we studied the toxicity and tolerability of three consecutive intramuscular injections (IM) of cryopreserved human MSC-NTF cells in C57BL/B6 mice to investigate the effect of repeated administration of these cells.
Results: Monitoring of clinical signs and immune reactions showed that repeated injections of the cells did not lead to any serious adverse events. Pathology, histology and blood biochemistry parameters tested were found to be within normal ranges with no sign of tumor formation.
Conclusions: Based on these results we conclude that repeated injections of human MSC-NTF are well tolerated in mice. The results of this study suggest that if the outcomes of additional clinical studies point to the need for repeated treatments, such option can be considered safe.
Keywords: ALS; Cryopreservation; Mesenchymal stromal cells; Repeat injections; Stem cells.