Autoimmune Disease: In the Spotlight

Autoimmune Disease: In the Spotlight

What is an Autoimmune Disease?

An autoimmune disease is the result of your immune system attacking the healthy cells in your body, mistaking them for foreign cells. Foreign cells are cells which could cause the body harm such as infections.  The type of autoimmune disease which ensues after such attacks will depend on which cells the immune system is targeting.

What are examples of Autoimmune Diseases?

There are over illnesses categorized as an autoimmune disease, some of the most prevalent or most well known are:

You can find more information about autoimmune diseases here.

How can Stem Cells treat an Autoimmune Disease?

When conventional treatments for certain autoimmune diseases are ineffective for the patient a stem cell transplant might be considered as a treatment option.  A stem cell transplant involves destroying the immune system with chemotherapy and rebuilding it with stem cells which may come from cord blood or bone marrow; in the case of autoimmune disease patients their own bone marrow is often used.  While bone marrow is not necessarily preferred over cord blood it is important to note that the first cord blood transplant was performed in 1988 so many of today’s patients would not have their cord blood stored.

It is not routine for a patient with an autoimmune disease to be treated with a stem cell transplant for their illness, primarily because conventional treatments work effectively for many patients.  However, there are documented cases of patients who have had a stem cell transplant to treat cancer and have found an improvement in the autoimmune disease they suffer, such as this case here.

Are there Clinical Trials for Treating Autoimmune Disease with Stem Cells?

There are currently 144 clinical trials investigating the application of stem cells for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, involving scientists from around the world.

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