Imagine a world with a medical landscape unlike anything we recognize now – where today’s medicines could be obsolete and surgical intervention a rarity. Where breakthroughs mean people will be living into their 100’s in good health and in sound mind.
If that sounds like fantasy, it’s safe to say that science fiction is rapidly evolving into medical fact, and the shift is going to be dramatic. A key component in this evolving future are viable, regenerative adult cell replacement therapies — applied to treating a span of diseases and ailments, including heart disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, spine degeneration, diabetes, Parkinson’s, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, damaged bones and many other issues.
Leading this charge is modern day medical pioneer Dr. Silviu Itescu, the CEO and founder of Mesoblast, Ltd., now the largest regenerative medicine company worldwide. Think American pioneer Dr. Jonas Salk in the early days of his research in fighting the dread polio. Dr. Salk became a revered medical figure upon the announcement in 1955 that his polio vaccine was safe and effective. It was a turning point in the fight against a disease that condemned some victims to live the rest of their lives in tank-like breathing machines called iron lungs and made playing outside off-limits to children as parents feared contagion. The Salk Polio vaccine changed medical history and saved countless lives, ending the yearly toll of epidemics, paralysis and death.
The extraordinary story of Dr. Itescu is not far off from Dr. Jonas Salk. In the 21st century, Dr. Itescu’s work through Mesoblast is on the brink of revolutionizing medicine as we know it. His pioneering efforts showing that certain adult stem cells, extracted from healthy adults’ bone marrow, could be used to repair damaged hearts has formed the basis of many clinical trials in patients with ischemic heart disease.
Dr. Itescu has focused Mesoblast’s stem cell therapies in four major and distinct areas – systemic diseases with an underlying inflammatory and immunologic etiology; cardiac and vascular diseases; orthopedic diseases of the spine; and improving outcomes of bone marrow transplantation associated with oncology or genetic conditions. Mesoblast currently has multiple products in various stages of clinical trials in anticipation of making them available to the public.
Mesoblast’s researchers take healthy donor adult stem cells and refine the targeted cells needed, multiplying the specific MPCs (rare cells found around blood vessels in various tissues), and multiplies them, and injects them directly in the diseased areas.
With a successful career highlighted by medicine and academia, Dr. Itescu is both a medical doctor and a professor of immunology, as well as a former Columbia University faculty member. He has advised both the United States President’s Council on Bioethics and the United States Food & Drug Administration’s Biological Response Modifiers Advisory Committee on cell therapy. Professor Itescu was named BioSpectrum Asia Person of the Year in 2011.
The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture honored Dr. Itescu in 2013 with the inaugural Key Innovator Award for his leadership and ingenuity in translational science and clinical medicine in relation to adult stem cell therapy. His continued work is part of a group of forward thinking scientists and researchers who have bet on adult stem cell therapy and refined this science to create real efficacy in repairing damaged tissue.
Dr. Itescu tells Monsters and Critics that his company Mesoblast “…is significantly ahead of everyone else in the space,” and that the Company’s pioneering strategies have many top American doctors working with them in clinical trials “extremely excited about the early results as we move through these phases.”
According to Dr. Itescu, “Highly purified, immunoselected MPCs and the cultured MSCs they give rise to share very important technical characteristics – both populations can be expanded in large numbers in culture, are well tolerated when used allogeneically in unrelated recipients, and can differentiate to greater or lesser degrees into bone, fat and cartilage.”
What this means is these little packages of healthy targeted cells go immediately to the diseased spots of the back, heart, pancreas or wherever and repair the bad cells, regenerating and rebuilding you from the inside out!