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Stem Cells For Autoimmune Diseases
Autoimmune diseases encompass a vast array of disorders in which an overactive immune system attacks its own cells and tissues leading to devastating consequences. In other words, your body damages and fights against itself. Researchers have identified greater than 100 different autoimmune diseases which are often chronic, debilitating and life threatening. The standard treatment for most cases of autoimmune diseases is some form of immunosuppression or steroid treatment to keep the immune system under control. Often the long term side effects of these treatments outweigh the benefits.
The National Institute of Health estimates that some 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases and it is one of the top 10 leading causes of death for women and children. People with autoimmune diseases learn to work with their doctors to control or modulate the immune system in order to control the disease and keep some of the side effects at bay. However, many patients don’t have many options at hand a live day to day coping with different symptoms by using different pharmaceuticals and steroids.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a type of stem cell that offer immune modulation and growth support. Currently, there are more than 15,000 scientific publications, including many clinical trials in the field of mesenchymal stem cells demonstrating the beneficial therapeutic use. Many of the publications focus on immune system control and growth.
Can stem cells help treat autoimmune diseases?
Examples of autoimmune diseases that have responded to stem cell therapy either in animals or humans include (but not limited to) Diabetes Mellitus Type 1, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Multiple Sclerosis(MS), and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).
Besides healing damaged tissues, stem cells have the unique ability to influence the immune system, shutting off pathological responses while preserving its ability to fight off disease. Stem cells and specifically, mesenchymal stem cells target and are attracted to inflamed tissue and start producing anti-inflammatory agents. Mesenchymal stem cells have the potential to induce the production of T regulatory cells, a type of immune cell whose function is to protect the body against immunological self-attack.