Genostem (acronym for “Adult mesenchymal stem cells engineering for connective tissue disorders. From the bench to the bed side”) has been an European consortium of 30 teams working together on human bone marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cell (MSC) biological properties and repair capacity. Part of Genostem activity has been dedicated to the study of basic issues on undifferentiated MSCs properties and on signalling pathways leading to the differentiation into 3 of the connective tissue lineages, osteoblastic, chondrocytic and tenocytic. We have evidenced that native bone marrow MSCs and stromal cells, forming the niche of hematopoietic stem cells, were the same cellular entity located abluminally from marrow sinus endothelial cells. We have also shown that culture-amplified, clonogenic and highly-proliferative MSCs were bona fide stem cells, sharing with other stem cell types the major attributes of self-renewal and of multipotential priming to the lineages to which they can differentiate (osteoblasts, chondrocytes, adipocytes and vascular smooth muscle cells/pericytes). Extensive transcription profiling and in vitro and in vivo assays were applied to identify genes involved in differentiation. Thus we have described novel factors implicated in osteogenesis (FHL2, ITGA5, Fgf18), chondrogenesis (FOXO1A) and tenogenesis (Smad8). Another part of Genostem activity has been devoted to studies of the repair capacity of MSCs in animal models, a prerequisite for future clinical trials. We have developed novel scaffolds (chitosan, pharmacologically active microcarriers) useful for the repair of both bone and cartilage. Finally and most importantly, we have shown that locally implanted MSCs effectively repair bone, cartilage and tendon.
link to the article