1st UK Mesenchymal Stem Cell Meeting
28 Jun, 2006 11:41 am
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have attracted widespread interest as promising candidates for the cell-based treatment of different degenerative disorders. Our understanding of MSC biology and their potential clinical application has progressed significantly over the last few years and further successes are predicted. However there are still a number of pressing issues that the field, collectively, needs to address. In June 2006, researchers with interests in MSCs gathered in York, UK. The aim was to discuss progress, share experiences and debate the challenges that must be met in order to fully realise the potential of MSCs in the first scientific meeting of its kind.
MSCs are generally isolated from tissues by their adherence to plastic culture surfaces and the exclusion of other contaminating cell types, such as the blood cells of the marrow. There are no definitive recognition markers for MSCs. This hampers attempts to isolate and expand purified stem cell populations or to study MSC behaviour at specific tissues sites (niches) in the body. As a result, most workers in the field recognise that they are probably working with a mixed population of cells that only contains a small subpopulation of true “stem cells” and it has been suggested that MSCs isolated and grown in this manner should be termed “multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells” to acknowledge this fact.
These issues and others were discussed at a one-day meeting held on 8th June 2006 at Tempest Anderson Hall, York, which attracted over 200 delegates from the UK and beyond. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Paul Genever (University of York) with invited presentations from Prof. Moustapha Kassem (University of Southern Denmark), Dr. Cosimo De Bari (King's College London, UK), Prof. Colin Jahoda (University of Durham, UK), Dr Suzanne Watt (National Blood Service, UK) and Prof. Richard Oreffo (University of Southampton, UK). Several abstract submissions were also invited for oral presentation and there was a full poster session. The meeting was generously sponsored by Abcam (www.abcam.com). Many workers from different fields, but with shared interests in MSCs, interacted for the first time, new collaborations were made and key issues discussed. Planning is already underway for the 2nd MSC meeting in 2007; a forum such as this provides an opportunity to advance the understand and application of MSCs so that we can optimise the potential of these valuable cells.