Hematopoiesis as the only essential function of bone marrow cells has been challenged for several decades through basic science (in vitro and in vivo) and clinical data. Such work has shed light on two other essential functions of bone marrow cells: osteopoiesis and angiogenesis/vasculogenesis. Clinical utility of autologous concentrated bone marrow aspirate (CBMA) has demonstrated both safety and efficacy in treating bone defects. Moreover, CBMA has been shown to be comparable to the gold standard of iliac crest bone graft (ICBG), or autograft, with regard to being osteogenic and osteoinductive. ICBG is not considered an advanced therapy medicinal product (ATMP), but CBMA may become regulated as an ATMP. The European Medicines Agency Committee for Advanced Therapies (EMA:CAT) has issued a reflection paper (20 June 2014) in which reversal of the 2013 ruling that CBMA is a non-ATMP has been proposed. We review bone marrow cell involvement in osteopoiesis and angiogenesis/vasculogenesis to examine EMA:CAT 2013 decision to use CBMA for treatment of osteonecrosis (e.g, of the femoral head) should be considered a non-ATMP. This paper is intended to provide discussion on the 20 June 2014 reflection paper by reviewing two non-hematopoietic essential functions of bone marrow cells. Additionally, we provide clinical and scientific rationale for treating osteonecrosis with CBMA.
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