‘Mesenchymal stromal cells: a paradigm shift in cell therapeutics’ 

Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSC) are probably amongst the most promising cell-based reagents for immunomodulation. Their potent immunosuppressive action, which is not antigen specific and does not require MHC compatibility, has successfully been exploited in immune mediated ailments with dramatic clinical benefits. However, the incomplete understanding of the underlying mechanisms has hindered their best clinical use. We have recently identified a mechanism of action that can finally reconcile the complexity of MSC immunomodulation and resolve the paradox of their long-term in vivo activity despite the lack of engraftment. We will discuss the implications of these findings on biomarker development and novel therapeutic approaches.

Prof Francesco Dazzi has been working on the biology and clinical applications of cellular therapies in haemopoietic stem cell transplantation for the last 20 years. He obtained an MD and a PhD at Padua University Medical School (Italy), and subsequently trained as a Haematologist at Verona University and at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School (London, UK). He was appointed Senior Lecturer and then Professor in Stem Cell biology at Imperial College in 2005. In 2014 he moved to King’s College London where he is Professor of Regenerative and Haematological Medicine and leads Cellular Therapies for Kings’ Health Partners. Francesco pioneered a large and highly successful cellular immunotherapy programme for leukaemia and characterised the immunosuppressive effects of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC). His team successfully tested MSC in pre-clinical models and the work has formed the basis of UK wide clinical studies.