Author(s): Mouly V, Aamiri A, Pri S, Mamchaoui K, Barani A,
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Abstract Myoblast transfer therapy (MTT) was proposed in the 70's as a potential treatment for muscular dystrophies, based upon the early results obtained in mdx mice: dystrophin expression was restored in this model by intramuscular injections of normal myoblasts. These results were quickly followed by clinical trials for patients suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) in the early 90's, based mainly upon intramuscular injections of allogenic myoblasts. The clinical benefits obtained from these trials were minimal, if any, and research programs concentrated then on the various pitfalls that hampered these clinical trials, leading to numerous failures. Several causes for these failures were identified in mouse models, including a massive cell death of myoblasts following their injection, adverse events involving the immune system and requiring immunosuppression and the adverse events linked to it, as well as a poor dispersion of the injected cells following their injection. It should be noted that these studies were conducted in mouse models, not taking into account the fundamental differences between mice and men. One of these differences concerns the regulation of proliferation, which is strictly limited by proliferative senescence in humans. Although this list is certainly not exhaustive, new therapeutic venues were then explored, such as the use of stem cells with myogenic potential, which have been described in various populations, including bone marrow, circulating blood or muscle itself. These stem cells presented the main advantage to be available and not exhausted by the numerous cycles of degeneration/regeneration which characterize muscle dystrophies. However, the different stem candidates have shown their limits in terms of efficiency to participate to the regeneration of the host. Another issue was raised by clinical trials involving the injection of autologous myoblasts in infacted hearts, which showed that limited targets could be aimed with autologous myoblasts, as long as enough spared muscle was available. This resulted in a clinical trial for the pharyngeal muscles of patients suffering from Oculo-Pharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy (OPMD). The results of this trial will not be available before 2 years, and a similar procedure is being studied for Fascio-Scapulo-Humeral muscular Dystrophy (FSHD). Concerning muscular dystrophies which leave very few muscles spared, such as DMD, other solutions must be found, which could include exon-skipping for the eligible patients, or even cell therapy using stem cells if some cell candidates with enough efficiency can be found. Recent results concerning mesoangioblasts or circulating AC133+ cells raise some reasonable hope, but still need further confirmations, since we have learned from the past to be cautious concerning a transfer of results from mice to humans.
This article was published in Acta Myol
and referenced in Journal of Stem Cell Research & Therapy