Skip to main content

About Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs)

MSCs are multi-potent cells that have displayed the following abilities.

Ability to divide to form bone, cartilage, muscle, fat and other tissues such as neural tissue, pancreatic tissue under induction;

Return to the site of the injury and assist in the repair;

Improve anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties.

Many clinical trials are ongoing worldwide to uncover the medical potential of MSCs. So far, encouraging results have been published. MSCs have also been used in combination with HSCs as a dual therapy to promote faster engraftment of HSCs and to reduce immune system complications.

MSC clinical trials performed worldwide

DiseasesNames of Universities or Research Institutions
StrokeUniversity Hospital, Grenoble, France
Spinal cord injuryChinese University of Hong Kong
Cairo University, Egypt
Multiple sclerosisSpain-Carlos Health Institute
University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Cleveland Clinic, United States
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosisHadassah Medical Organization, Israel
Parkinson‘s diseaseJaslok Hospital and Research Centre, India
Multiple system atrophyYonsei University, South Korea
Liver diseaseCytori Therapeutics, United States
Diabetic foot ulcerThird Military Medical University, China
Washington DC Veterans Medical Centre, United States
Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany
DiabetesFuzhou General Hospital, China
Uppsala University, Sweden

Reports on MSC applications

Skeletal repair

  • Therapy for knee cartilage damage was performed by Dr Kevin Lee of NUH Orthopaedic Surgery in Singapore.
  • Since 2006, 35 patients with worn knee cartilage have received autologous ex-vivo expanded bone marrow MSCs injections.
  • The quality of life of the patients was reported to have improved, with some regaining the ability to climb stairs and experiencing less pain.

Co-transplantation of MSCs and HSCs

  • Sydney Scott was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia at 13 weeks old in 2002.
  • Baby Sydney was treated with chemotherapy, followed by cord blood and MSC co-transplantation – a world’s first.
  • MSCs were thought to have enabled blood stem cell engraftment.
  • Baby Sydney was relapse and medication free at the time of report.

Source: University of Minnesota, Paediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Centre

Heart attack

  • 69 patients with acute myocardial infarction after percutaneous coronary intervention were randomly assigned to either a bone marrow MSC injection or a saline control group
  • MSCs were injected into patients’ damaged heart sites following angioplasty
  • At three months, the proportion of patients with functional defects in the MSC group was significantly lower than in the pre-transplantation and control groups

Source: University of Minnesota, Paediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Centre


  • 18 stroke patients who had their first stroke 6 months to 3 years before were given modified MSCs derived from the bone marrow of two donors.
  • Patients showed signs of recovery within a month of the procedure, which lasted for several months.
  • Patients who were previously in wheelchairs began to walk after the treatment, according to principal investigator Dr. Gary Steinberg.

Source: Steinberg GK, Kondziolka D, Wechsler LR, et al. Clinical outcomes of transplanted modified bone marrow–derived mesenchymal stem cells in stroke: A Phase 1/2A study. Stroke. 2016;47(7):1817-1824.
Source: Medical News Today newsletter.

Heart failure

  • 30 patients with heart failure were given either allogeneic MSC derived from umbilical cords or a placebo intravenously.
  • Patients who received MSCs showed sustained and significant improvement compared to the placebo group, resulting in higher quality of life.
  • The study established that the infusions were safe and had no negative effects.

Source: University of Minnesota, Paediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Centre
Source: ScienceDaily. Last assessed 12 September 2018.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • 24 COVID-19 patients were enrolled in the study at random.
  • MSCs derived from the umbilical cord were given to 12 patients twice as treatment, while the rest received standard medical care.
  • More than half of the MSC patients were discharged within two weeks, and more than 80% recovered within a month.

Source: Giacomo L, Elina L, Diego C, et al. Umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells for COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome: A double-blind, phase 1/2A, randomized controlled trial. Stem Cells Transl. Med. 2021;1–14.
Source: Umbilical cord stem cells may reduce risk of death in severe COVID-19 patients. Phillyvoice website. Last accessed April 1, 2021.

Osteochondral defect

  • 72 patients were followed for at least 10 years after receiving either autologous bone marrow-derived MSCs or autologous chondrocyte implantation to treat osteochondral defects.
  • After cartilage repair surgery, all patient-reported outcome scores improved, and no patients in either group developed a deep infection or tumour during the follow-up period.

Source: Teo A, Wong KL, Shen L, et al. Equivalent 10-year outcomes after implantation of autologous bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells versus autologous chondrocyte implantation for chondral defects of the knee. Am J Sports Med. DOI: 10.1177/0363546519867933.

DCR No. 4218, Version A, May 2021