Stem Cell Therapy and Autoimmune Disease
Stem Cell Therapy and Autoimmune Disease
Facts and Figures
Source: US National Library of Medicine
An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body. The immune system normally guards against germs like bacteria and viruses. When it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them.
Normally, the immune system can tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells however in an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part of your body as foreign and it releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack healthy cells.
There are at least 80 types of autoimmune diseases and nearly any body part can be affected, some common autoimmune diseases include diabetes mellitus type 1, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, Addison’s disease, Graves disease and lupus.
Whilst autoimmune diseases are not inherited the genes that are passed from parents can contribute to the susceptibility for developing an autoimmune disease. Certain diseases such as psoriasis can occur among several members of the same family. This suggests that a specific gene or set of genes predisposes a family member to psoriasis. In addition, individual family members with autoimmune diseases may inherit and share a set of abnormal genes, although they may develop different autoimmune diseases.
The number of people who suffer from Autoimmune Diseases is not easy to calculate. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates up to 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease but the prevalence is rising. While the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) say that number exceeds 50 million.
It appears that women get autoimmune diseases at a rate of about 2 to 1 compared to men — 6.4 percent of women vs. 2.7 percent of men, and often the disease starts during a woman’s childbearing years (ages 14 to 44). Some autoimmune diseases are more common in certain ethnic groups. For example, lupus affects more African-American and Hispanic people than Caucasians and is believed to impact over 239,000 Americans, of which more than 90 percent are women.
Little is known about the causes of autoimmune diseases. Certain autoimmune diseases, like multiple sclerosis and lupus, run in families. However, not every family member will necessarily have the same disease, but they can inherit a susceptibility to an autoimmune condition and because the incidence of autoimmune diseases is rising, researchers suspect environmental factors like infections and exposures to chemicals or solvents might also be involved.
Research Into Stem Cell Treatment
However, today, new treatments and advances in stem cell research are giving new hope to people affected by Autoimmune Diseases. Stem cell therapy for Autoimmune Diseases is being studied for efficacy in improving the complications in patients through the use of their own stem cells. These autoimmune disorder treatments may help patients who don’t respond to typical drug treatment, want to reduce their reliance on medication, or are looking to try stem cell therapy before starting drug treatment.
While stem cells may not be the cure for autoimmunity, their properties hold promising potential to reduce symptom flare-ups and slow or control the progression of different diseases. In particular, Mesenchymal stem cells, have been shown in studies to contain immunomodulatory effects and it is believed that systemic administration of these cells may alleviate some symptoms experienced by those who suffer from autoimmune diseases. These stem cells also have the capacity to reduce inflammation, which can be advantageous for diseases where too much inflammation is a cause of symptoms. Whilst further clinical trials in humans have proven intravenous injection of MSCs is safe and feasible for the treatment of MS.
Protect Their Future Health
For more information on the latest breakthroughs in stem cell therapies and treatments see our news articles.