How Stem Cell Therapy Can Treat Autoimmune Diseases Like Diabetes, Coeliac & Lupus
Why does our immune system attacks its own vital cells, tissues, and organs?
It’s a question central to understanding and treating a number of autoimmune diseases, from rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, to diabetes and coeliac disease.
One thing all autoimmune diseases have in common is they all cause the body’s immune system to turn against itself.
In a healthy individual, the immune system works by recognising foreign bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and activating a variety of immune cells to attack them.
For this process to work successfully, the immune system needs to distinguish between cells or components from invading organisms and the cells from your own body. Problems therefore arise when immune cells, mistake your own bodies cellular proteins, as foreign or harmful. This leads to cell and tissue destruction, and chronic inflammation – common in autoimmune disease.
This faulty mechanism is the reason behind the destruction of insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas in type 1 diabetes, the destruction of the joints in rheumatoid arthritis, and damage to the intestine in coeliac disease.
As such a destructive disease, that’s estimated to affect around two million people in the UK alone (and rising), autoimmune disease has long been a focus of stem cell research.
And with more and more trials being done, and more being uncovered about what’s happening in autoimmune disease on a cellular level, stem cell therapy is proving that it could offer the solution to treating and even reversing, some of the eighty diseases of this type.
Stem Cell Therapy As A Cure For Autoimmune Disease
Current treatments for autoimmune diseases, which include the systemic use of anti-inflammatory drugs and immunosuppressive agents like steroids, are modes of dampening the body’s whole immune response in order to help manage symptoms.
They can be effective in temporarily curbing the effects of a disease, but they’re not effective in all patients, and often leave them vulnerable to infection.
Because our white blood cells (leukocytes or leucocytes) which help fight of infection, are derived from hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow, scientists are moving toward stem cell treatments as a way of addressing the problem at it’s source.
Researchers have discovered that by removing misguided immune cells and returning normal functioning stem cells to the body, a healthy immune system can be restored. And these findings are not just confined to theory – we are seeing very encouraging results from a growing number of clinical trials, which support this idea.
In one trial, seven patients with life-threatening lupus—a severe autoimmune disease which affects multiple parts of the body including the muscles, skin, kidneys, and brain—were treated using stem cell therapy.
After healthy stem cells were harvested, each patient received drug or radiation therapy to destroy the mature, malfunctioning immune cells. Following this, the stem cells were returned to the patients via blood transfusions, where they migrated back to the bone marrow to develop into mature immune cells.
The results showed patients not only had their immune systems restored to proper working order, but, after being followed up for three years following treatment, they remained free from active lupus and without further need for immunosuppressive medications.
Another area which has seen a lot of success with stem cell treatment is type 1 diabetes. As early as 2009 we knew that stem cell treatment could cure diabetes and free patients from their daily insulin injections. And since then more and more cases are being reported each year, with recent studies becoming so advanced that treatment may not be too far away.
These are just a few examples of the incredible capabilities stem cell therapy holds in treating autoimmune disease. And thanks to the fact that extracting and banking stem cells is now easy and cost effective, stem cell treatments could be soon a reality for all.
The first step to treating autoimmune disease starts here. Contact us today to find out how you can help safeguard the health of your children by storing stem cells from their baby teeth.