MSCs: Is This the Future Therapeutic for Cancer?
Cancer is nowadays one of the main causes of death worldwide. The numbers have shown that one in three people will develop cancer at some point in their lives. Cancer is a major issue for the whole humanity, and therefore a lot of research has been running for the past years in order to understand the mechanisms that underlie tumorigenesis and eventually cancer formation, with the perspective to discover new approaches for effective treatment. Gene therapy strategies that intended to tackle cancer systemically are often impaired by inefficient delivery of the vector to the tumor site. Several studies have shown the possibility of using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as a future therapeutic mechanism against cancer, since they possess important features such as the ability to home to and target cancer cells. The engineering of MSCs to produce and deliver an apoptotic factor, calledtumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) has been studied excessively. TRAIL is a transmembrane protein that causes selective apoptosis of tumor cells but does not have any harmful effects on the normal neighboring cells. Experiments have shown that this approach has significant results in mouse models and has now proceeded for clinical trials.