Medistem is focused on developing therapies for treating serious diseases and conditions using the natural regenerative properties of stem cells. In 2007, the Company’s researchers discovered a new type of stem cell sourced from menstrual blood, dubbed the Endometrial Regenerative Cell (ERC).
This cell was discovered based on a hypothesis that is rooted in a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle. Each month, inside a woman’s uterus, there grows a web of blood vessels called the endometrium. If the woman becomes pregnant, then the fertilized egg embeds itself in this web of blood vessels and thus begins the transmission of nutrients and the development of the placental tissue, etc. However, if the woman does not become pregnant, these blood vessels break down and are flushed through the menstrual cycle. From these facts, Medistem scientists hypothesized that not only is there a unique specialized cell in the endometrium whose sole purpose is to grow blood vessels, but that given location of such cells and their proximity to the point of transmission of nutrients between mother and child that such cells would not trigger an immune response. Immune rejection is one of the major hurdles behind other sources of allogeneic (i.e. using someone else’s) stem cells – that the body may see the stem cells as a foreign body and kill them before they ever have a therapeutic effect.
This hypothesis was indeed proven to be correct, as the ERC does not trigger an immune response and its primary function is to grow blood vessels. For this discovery, Medistem scientists received the 2007 Publication of the Year award in Medicine from BioMed Central, a publisher of >200 peer reviewed journals.
Medistem is developing therapies using the ERC cells and is initiating the process of getting these therapies approved for use in the United States. These therapies address conditions that could greatly benefit from these cells innate ability to generate new blood vessels, including critical limb ischemia and ischemic heart disease.