Can Present Stem Cell Therapies Improve Vaccine Response in the Elderly?

Mesenchymal stem cell therapies fairly reliably reduce chronic inflammation for some period of time following the transplantation of cells. The cells don't survive long in the patient, and this effect is mediated by the signals they produce while present. Chronic inflammation causes many issues, including a disruption of tissue maintenance and regeneration. It contributes directly to the progression of numerous age-related conditions, including the components of frailty syndrome, but it is an open question as to the degree to which it is required to maintain the current state of those conditions. If inflammation is suppressed for an extended period of time, will there be some improvement in the patient?

The company Longeveron has been running trials in older frail people to examine the degree that benefits result from suppression of inflammation via stem cell therapies. Of interest is the latest trial announced here, in which they are looking at vaccine response. It is well known that older people have less functional immune systems, and one of the many consequences is that vaccination, such as against influenza, isn't as effective. It is interesting to speculate on the likely mechanisms by which stem cell induced reductions in inflammation might help: increased delivery of new immune cells due to enhanced native stem cell activity, or perhaps suppression or some degree of removal of malfunctioning immune cells?

Longeveron, a biopharmaceutical company that develops stem cell therapies for aging-related conditions, announced that it has received a $750,000 grant from the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO). Longeveron will apply the funding towards its clinical trial examining the safety and efficacy of its allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell (MSCs) product to improve flu vaccine immune response in elderly patients with frailty. "Last year's flu season was one of the worst and deadliest in recent years, and seniors are typically the most vulnerable. Regenerative stem cell therapies hold great promise to bolster the immune systems of older people for greater resistance to flu."

"This is an important test of cell therapy technology and may have long term implications in vaccine strategies in older adults. Immune functional decline, or immunosenescence, is a hallmark feature of aging. Elder patients, particularly those who are frail, are at high risk for influenza and its complications. Data from our previous study indicate that aging frailty is associated with poor antibody response to, and clinical protection from, vaccination with standard dose trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine. While newer influenza vaccines have become available in recent years, MSCs represent a novel immunization strategy."

Longeveron's MSC product is derived from the bone marrow of young, healthy adult donors, and is currently being tested in a variety of indications in clinical trials, including Aging Frailty. In 2017, the company published positive Phase I and Phase 2 Aging Frailty study results in the Journals of Gerontology. Frail patients showed marked improvement in physical performance, lung function, and inflammation, with no serious adverse effects attributed to the treatment.The company also recently completed enrollment in the first phase of its flu vaccine immune-response trial.



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