Research is ongoing to evaluate the effects of stem cells on auto-immune conditions.
Scleroderma also known as systemic sclerosis, is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by damage to endothelial and smooth muscle cells of the small arteries. Replacement with fibrous material results, and there is an influx of inflammatory cells. Primarily affects skin and joints but can affect the heart and lungs, and digestive tract. Some types of scleroderma are rapidly progressive and deadly. Scleroderma is often treated with immunosuppressive drugs, and there is no known cure. Some investigators are looking at using the regenerative properties of cell therapy to mitigate the impact of scleroderma. Research is ongoing to evaluate the effects of stem cells on auto-immune conditions. As recently stated in Best Practices & Research Clinical Rheumatology in a review of Scleroderma, “Stem cell transplantation seems to be promising in restarting the immune system to diminish fibrosis and restore microvasculature
Auto-Immune Neuropathy and CIDP
CIDP also known as chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy is an auto-immune disease of the nervous system characterized by progressive weakness and impaired sensory function in the legs and arms. CIDP is closely related to Guillan-Barre Disease. Treatment for CIDP includes steroids and immunosuppressant drugs. Plasmapheresis (plasma exchange) and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy also commonly used. Aggressive treatment is used to prevent loss of axons. Some cases progress and are resistant to medical therapy, making it difficult to manage symptoms. There is hope that mesenchymal stem cells will mitigate some of the degenerative effects of CIDP neuropathy. Research is ongoing to evaluate the effects of stem cells on auto-immune conditions.
Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune neuromuscular disease leading to fluctuating muscle weakness and fatigability. It is an autoimmune disorder, in which weakness is caused by circulating antibodies that inhibit the excitatory effects of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine on neuromuscular junctions. Muscular fatigue is often seen and MG is associated with ocular problems, and speech, swallowing, and breathing can be affected. Myasthenia Gravis is treated medically with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors or immunosuppressants, and in selected cases, thymectomy. MG is associated with other auto-immune conditions, including thyroid disease, lupus, and diabetes. Animal model studies are ongoing and, according to the Scandinavian Journal of Immunology in 2010, a study demonstrated that hMSC (mesenchymal stem cells) treatment was therapeutically useful in autoimmune myasthenia gravis mice, and the underlying mechanism may relate with their immunomodulatory potentia
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease common in middle age, especially in women. The disease affects peripheral joints, including the wrists, feet, ankles, and knees. The cause is unknown and eyes and skin also can be involved. Early aggressive therapy with immunosuppressive drugs and anti-inflammatories appears to delay joint destruction. More recently, biologic agents have been added to regimens that include TNF inhibitors, WBC modulators, and growth factor inhibitors. Research is ongoing to evaluate the effects of stem cells on auto-immune conditions. According to the Journal of Translational Research, “The ability of MSC to inhibit immune response, while offering the possibility of inducing/accelerating healing of tissue that has already been damaged, makes this population attractive for treatment of autoimmune disorders.”
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that occurs in half a million people in North America. It may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus, causing a wide variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea (which may be bloody if inflammation is at its worst), vomiting (can be continuous), or weight loss. Skin rashes and arthritis can also occur. Crohn’s disease has a genetic component, but it is an auto-immune disease in which the person’s own immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract possibly directed at microbial antigens. The terminal ileum is the part of the bowel most often affected in this disease. Treatment often includes immune-suppressant therapy with steroids. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatories are also used extensively. In Europe, stem cells are used commonly to treat Crohn’s. Research is ongoing to evaluate the effects of stem cells on auto-immune conditions. The Journal of Translational Research reports that “non-expanded SVF cells have been used successfully in accelerating healing of Crohn’s fistulas”
Auto-immune hepatitis is an inflammatory auto-immune disease of the liver. It often occurs with other auto-immune conditions such as scleroderma, lupus, Crohn’s, and Graves thyroid disease. Patients experience fatigue, loss of appetite, itching, and abdominal distension. Treatment with corticosteroids is the standard of care, but the hepatitis may cause cirrhosis (scarring) and eventually lead to liver failure. A new study from Germany indicates that it is important to establish the diagnosis before cirrhosis develops.
Relapsing Polychondritis is an auto-immune condition characterized by the body attacking its own cartilage. Polychondritis patients suffer from recurrent relapsing episodes of painful cartilage inflammation. Susceptible areas include ears, nasopharynx, heart valves, and blood vessels. As stated in Annals of Internal Medicine, Relapsing Polychondritis…can be life-threatening and debilitating. There is no one specific test for identifying Polychondritis and the course of the disease is often unpredictable. Treatment consists of anti-inflammatory medications and immune suppression with corticosteroids. Research is ongoing to evaluate the effects of stem cells on auto-immune conditions. According to the Journal of Rheumatology Supplements, “the opportunity to ablate (with autologous stem cells) severe autoimmune disease with increased safety is particularly attractive for necrotizing vasculitides, polymyositis/dermatomyositis, primary Sjögren’s syndrome, systemic juvenile arthritis, and relapsing Polychondritis.”
Alopecia Areata is a genetically related auto-immune condition in which the body attacks its own hair follicles resulting in small bald patches. It can involve the entire scalp (totalis) or the entire body (universalis). Sometimes patients spontaneously improve and others continue to worsen. Steroid therapy and topical immune-suppressants are frequently used for treatment. There are ongoing clinical trials using growth factor inhibitors to mitigate the hair loss. Research is ongoing to evaluate the effects of stem cells on auto-immune hair loss conditions. Recent work has focused on the hair follicle as the main source of multipotent stem cells in the skin.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, considered a collection of diseases, is an auto-immune disorder in which the immune system attacks healthy tissues, especially in the joints (especially fingers, wrists, hands, and knees). Patients often develop fatigue, rash, and swollen lymph nodes, but many body parts can be affected. As with other auto-immune conditions, anti-inflammatory medications and immune-suppressants are used commonly for treatment. Sometimes cytotoxic drugs are used for severe cases.
Results from this or any other treatment cannot be guaranteed. Your stem cells are your body’s own ability to heal. Outcomes will vary from patient to patient. Each potential patient must be assessed individually to determine the potential for optimum results from this regenerative therapy. To learn more about stem cell therapy, please contact us by clicking here or calling our clinic at 604-708-CELL (604-708-2355).