Department of stem cell preparation

Department of Stem Cells Preparation was established at the St. Elisabeth Oncological Institute in 2012. Foundation of the Department was inspired by the fact that the worldwide research of stem cells arrived at a stage, where stem cell therapy was starting to be tested in clinical trials for therapy of many diseases that did not have satisfactorily standard therapies or were not treatable.

Principle of stem cell therapeutic effect

In the human body adult stem cells are present in small numbers in every organ. They are also called stromal cells, because they form a stroma of the body organs and tissues. Their main role is to regenerate worn or damaged tissues through biological factors they excrete - secretome. The most important part of the secretome beside growths factors, cytokines, chemokines are extracellular vesicles-exosomes (30-150nm). Stem cells exosomes are responsible for cell to cell communication and they keep cell homeostasis by means of excretion of ineligible compounds from the body. Researchers have found that the stem/stromal cells (MSCs) could be isolated and expanded from various human tissues in the laboratory to such number, which is needed for the therapeutic use. When the stem cells are delivered in a sufficient number to the damaged site of the body, they induce endogenous reparatory processes through the action of its secretome, and repair the damage. The process of repairs takes several months. In order to use stem cells clinically it is necessary to prepare and expand them in a sterile environment in GMP (Good Manufactoring Practice) conditions. A GMP facility was built in the St. Elisabeth Oncological Institute and it is approved for production of stem cells for clinical application.

Highly qualified specialists of the Department of Stem Cell Preparation are experienced to prepare MSCs from bone marrow, adipose tissue, dental pulp, umbilical cord, placenta and menstrual blood. The quality of expanded mesenchymal stem cells is tested by their abilities to be induced to differentiation to adipocytes, osteoblasts and chondrocytes and for the presence of cell surface markers, internationally recognized standards of these cells. The expanded and characterized stem cells are preserved as living cells by freezing them in liquid nitrogen at -180 °C, from where in case of an acute need, they can be used.

A worldwide research showed that mesenchymal stem cells and their exosomes could be used in the regeneration medicine for treatment of various illnesses. In many clinical trials researchers try to find the optimal dose of the cells as well as their novel applications in various diseases. By intensive research it was found that the secretome of mesenchymal stem cells mediates the tissue regeneration similarly to the cells, and the application is regarded as safer. The scientists from the Department in the agreement with the world trend intend to widen their therapeutic use of mesenchymal stem cells for so called civilizing illnesses. In the Department, the research is done to elucidate the possibility to use mesenchymal stem cells and their exosomes in the innovated treatment of those tumors, which have not yet an effective standard therapy.

In the field of regeneration medicine at the St. Elisabeth Oncological Institute we produce mesenchymal stem cells, which are used for healing of patients with jaw aseptic necrosis in the Department of maxilla-facial surgery. Allogenic mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow of healthy donors are prepared in GMP conditions for the National Institute of Children Diseases for the Department of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology, Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Unit, where children with oncologic diseases are treated. The cells are needed for therapy of acute graft versus host disease (GvHD) refractile to corticoids after transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells.

Employees of the Department of stem cell preparation:
Assoc. Prof. Čestmir Altaner, Ph.D., DSc., Head
Uršula Altanerová, PhD.
Jana Jakubechová, M.Sc.
Peter Švec, M.D., Ph.D., professional guarantor