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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 459510, 8 pages
Review Article

Mesenchymal Stem Cells: Angels or Demons?

Division of Human Biology, School of Medical and Health Sciences, International Medical University, No. 126, Jalan Jalil Perkasa 19, Bukit Jalil, 57000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Received 8 March 2011; Revised 1 June 2011; Accepted 1 June 2011

Academic Editor: George E. Plopper

Copyright © 2011 Rebecca S. Y. Wong. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been used in cell-based therapy in various disease conditions such as graft-versus-host and heart diseases, osteogenesis imperfecta, and spinal cord injuries, and the results have been encouraging. However, as MSC therapy gains popularity among practitioners and researchers, there have been reports on the adverse effects of MSCs especially in the context of tumour modulation and malignant transformation. These cells have been found to enhance tumour growth and metastasis in some studies and have been related to anticancer-drug resistance in other instances. In addition, various studies have also reported spontaneous malignant transformation of MSCs. The mechanism of the modulatory behaviour and the tumorigenic potential of MSCs, warrant urgent exploration, and the use of MSCs in patients with cancer awaits further evaluation. However, if MSCs truly play a role in tumour modulation, they can also be potential targets of cancer treatment.