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Stem Cells Transl Med. 2012 May;1(5):353-8. doi: 10.5966/sctm.2012-0018. Epub 2012 Feb 6.

Translation of stem cell research: points to consider in designing preclinical animal studies.

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PharmaNet/i3, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.


Stem cell-based therapies hold tremendous promise for the treatment of serious diseases and injuries. Although hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is routinely used as part of the treatment regime for some malignancies and genetic diseases, most stem cell-based therapeutic products are investigational and still require preclinical and clinical studies to support their many novel therapeutic uses. Because of the multiple sources of stem cells, the plethora of potential applications, and the novel mechanism of action of stem cell-based therapies, there is no single set of universal guidance documents that can be used to inform the preclinical development path for these therapeutics. Specific technical issues relating to the transplantation of human cells in animals, new delivery procedures, and laborious methods to characterize transplanted cells can present further challenges in the design and execution of preclinical animal studies for stem cell-based therapeutic products. In this article, we outline important parameters to guide the design of preclinical studies for stem cell-based therapeutics. In addition, we review the types of preclinical studies that should be considered depending on the nature and specific use of the intended stem cell therapeutic product. Finally, we describe important considerations in the design and execution of specific studies to monitor the efficacy, toxicity, biodistribution, and tumorigenicity of stem cell-based therapeutics.

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