Recently, the introduction of cell therapy has opened new therapeutic hopes in the field of treating radiation-induced tissue lesions. Starting with animal experiments conducted by the IRSN, the first graft of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) was carried out on compassionate grounds in 2006, on a patient accidentally irradiated by a radioactive source [Lataillade et al. 2007]. Since then, eight more patients have benefited from this innovative treatment for severe tissue lesions after irradiation [Benderitter et al. 2010, Bey et al. 2010]. The results obtained were very promising, since the patients observed had no more pain within 48 hours following the MSC injections. In addition, their clinical evolution very quickly became favorable and graft compatibility turned out to be of excellent quality. With several years’ feedback no necrosis recurency has been observed in these patients. These patients all currently display very good healing of their lesions.
Cell therapy is a recent technique that consists of sampling, isolating, amplifying ex vivo and reinjecting stem cells for therapeutic purposes. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells, qualified as ‘pluripotent’ because they are capable of self-renewal and evolution towards mature cells with a variety of morphologies and functions. The choice of adult stem cells depends on the pathology targeted as well as the accessibility to those cells, their capacity for culture, and their therapeutic potential. Historically, bone marrow was the primary source of adult stem cells because of the relative accessibility.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) of therapy has proven its clinical effectiveness in the treatment of radiological burns. The side effects arising from radiotherapy, in their most severe forms, are currently still beyond the capacity of classic pharmacological therapeutic schemes. Cell therapy at the service of regenerative medicine could therefore be a therapeutic alternative to the radiotherapy adverse effects. The cell treatment protocols concerning the medical management of radiological burns must now be optimized for this innovative therapeutic approach to become the benchmark in the treatment of severe radiation- induced lesions.
Recent successes obtained for cutaneous lesions lead us to extend the scope of application of MSC-cell therapy into other organs, such as organs at risk that are present in the field of abdominopelvic radiotherapies. Moreover, the effectiveness of other types of adult stem cell must be tested MSCs being now our ‘reference cell model’.
Other adult stem cells have interesting therapeutic potential, including adipose stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells, for examples. The demonstration of the therapeutic effectiveness of adult stem cells will rely on a precise understanding of their modes of action, and the control of all the parameters required for their clinical use: injection, systemic and/or local, injection delay after the appearance of lesions, quantity of stem cells injected and rate of administration, and finally, the choice: cell therapy alone, or combined with surgery.
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