Spatial and temporal structure of the clinical research based on mesenchymal stromal cells: A network analysis

Cytotherapy. 2017 Jan;19(1):47-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2016.09.005. Epub 2016 Oct 17.


Background aims: Using innovative tools derived from social network analysis, the aims of this study were (i) to decipher the spatial and temporal structure of the research centers network dedicated to the therapeutic uses of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) and (ii) to measure the influence of fields of applications, cellular sources and industry funding on network topography.

Methods: From each trial using MSCs reported on, all research centers were extracted. Networks were generated using Cytoscape 3.2.2, where each center was assimilated to a node, and one trial to an edge connecting two nodes.

Results: The analysis included 563 studies. An independent segregation was obvious between continents. Asian, South American and African centers were significantly more isolated than other centers. Isolated centers had fewer advanced phases (P <0.001), completed studies (P = 0.01) and industry-supported studies (P <0.001). Various thematic priorities among continents were identified: the cardiovascular, digestive and nervous system diseases were strongly studied by North America, Europe and Asia, respectively. The choice of cellular sources also affected the network topography; North America was primarily involved in bone-marrow-derived MSC research, whereas Europe and Asia dominated the use of adipose-derived MSCs. Industrial funding was the highest for North American centers (90.5%).

Conclusions: Strengthening of international standards and statements with institutional, federal and industrial partners is necessary. More connections would facilitate the transfer of knowledge, sharing of resources, mobility of researchers and advancement of trials. Developing partnerships between industry and academic centers seems beneficial to the advancement of trials across different phases and would facilitate the translation of research discoveries.

Keywords: clinical trials as topic; mesenchymal stromal cells; regenerative medicine; social network analysis; stem cells.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Asia
  • Biomedical Research / organization & administration
  • Biomedical Research / statistics & numerical data*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells* / cytology
  • North America
  • Regenerative Medicine / methods
  • Social Support
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis