Aastrom is a leader in the development of autologous cell products for the repair or regeneration of human tissue. The Company's proprietary Tissue Repair Cell (TRC) technology involves the use of a patient's own cells to manufacture products to treat a range of chronic diseases and serious injuries. Aastrom's TRC-based products contain increased numbers of stem and early progenitor cells, produced from a small amount of bone marrow collected from the patient. The TRC technology platform has positioned Aastrom to advance multiple products into clinical development. Ongoing development activities are focused on applying TRC technology to cardiac and vascular tissue regeneration. The Company is currently focused on cardiovascular regeneration and is conducting a Phase II clinical trial with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) patients (the IMPACT-DCM trial) and a Phase IIb clinical trial with critical limb ischemia (CLI) patients (the RESTORE-CLI trial).
TRC Technology Understanding Stem Cells-Human stem cells have the capability to self-replicate or differentiate into the cell types that make up all tissues and organs of the human body. Under normal conditions, the human body has sufficient stem cells to support natural tissue maintenance and healing, but often lacks the quantity of stem cells necessary to successfully regenerate severely damaged tissues. Aastrom's stem cell development strategy seeks to overcome this shortage of stem cells by growing large numbers of a patient's own stem cells outside the body for use as treatments to promote tissue repair and regeneration.
Stem Cell Source There are numerous sources of human stem cells. Adult stem cells are the least controversial and may be collected from the bone marrow, blood or other tissue of patients or healthy donors. Aastrom utilizes only bone marrow-derived adult stem cells in all of its research and clinical development programs.
Autologous Stem Cells Autologous stem cells are cells obtained from a specific patient and returned to the same patient. When patients receive their own cells, there is no concern that the body will reject the implanted cells as foreign material and there is no need for the addition of potentially harmful immunosuppressive drugs. Autologous cells may integrate more effectively into the patient's body and better interact with the surrounding tissue to promote healing. All of Aastrom's products are autologous cell therapies with the goal of maximizing their long-term therapeutic efficacy and ensuring patient safety.
Stem Cells as Therapeutics Adult stem cells have a long history of human use as therapeutics beginning with bone marrow transplantation, and continuing with cell-based clinical trials focused on tissue repair. Aastrom seeks to leverage the history and therapeutic potential of bone marrow stem cells by producing a mixed population of stem and early stage progenitor cells that are capable of differentiating into a variety of tissues including, cardiac, vascular, bone, fat, cartilage and components of the blood and immune systems. The key advantage of Aastrom's Tissue Repair Cell-based (TRC) products is that the number of stem and progenitor cells is significantly expanded beyond what could be obtained directly from the patient, potentially enhancing the ability of the product to regenerate damaged or diseased tissues.