Attitudes Towards Standardization of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells—A Qualitative Exploration of Expert Views

Alison Wilson, Nik Brown, Emma Rand, Paul Genever

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Pharmacopoeial standards ensure quality control of established medicines. It is widely believed that translation of cell therapy medicines will be facilitated by defining and adopting relevant standards. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are used extensively for multiple indications in regenerative medicine. They are highly heterogeneous in terms of their biological characteristics and their mechanisms of action, making standardization a challenging undertaking. Furthermore, the use of MSCs in therapy appears to attract diverse views, ranging from concern and caution to enthusiastic positivity. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 20 expert stakeholders from academia, industry, regulatory agencies, non-governmental organizations and clinicians to explore their views, experiences, recommendations, and concerns regarding standardization of MSCs. Qualitative thematic analysis of transcribed records led to development of a consensus framework, which identified 5 key themes to facilitate exploration of the interviews’ content.

On the basis of our findings, we conclude that (1) there is undoubtedly an appetite for standardization, particularly in development of assays that enable comparison or benchmarking across manufacturers, processes, and cell sources; (2) stakeholder groups are not homogeneous in their concerns and attitudes; (3) careful consideration must be given to the points along the development timeline at which different standardization approaches could be beneficial; and (4) the roles of standards could be promoted further for specific aspects of advanced therapy medicinal product (ATMP) development and regulation such as qualification of decentralized manufacturing sites. A unified cross-stakeholder approach will help to advance MSC therapeutics and other cell therapy medicines.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberszad056
Number of pages13
JournalStem Cells Translational Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2023

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