Scientists have long been wondering what causes autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. While a number of factors likely play a role in the development of these conditions, there’s one thing they all have in common: In any autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakenly targets and attacks healthy tissue instead of diseases and infections alone. As a result, patients experience a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms, many of which are chronic.
In ordinary circumstances, the immune system is able to differentiate among foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses and healthy tissue. In someone with an autoimmune condition, the immune system mistakes healthy cellular proteins for harmful invaders. Healthy cells and tissue are then destroyed, and chronic inflammation ensues.
For instance, in people with rheumatoid arthritis, the joints are targeted. In celiac disease, the immune system damages the small intestine when exposed to gluten. These are just two of the more than 80 autoimmune diseases that, together, affect more than 7% of the U.S. population. Due to the high prevalence of these conditions and the severity of symptoms that can come with them, researchers are consistently exploring new treatment methods. As new results from trials emerge, it’s becoming clear that stem cell therapy could be the solution for treating or potentially slowing down the progression of autoimmune conditions.
How does Stem Cell Therapy help Autoimmune Patients?
Currently, treatments for autoimmune conditions may include systemic anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive drugs, such as steroids. Not only can these treatments carry serious side effects (such as increased susceptibility to infection or illness), but they can also lose their effectiveness over time.
Scientists are focusing on these powerful cells to address the root cause of autoimmune disease. Research shows that removing the misguided immune cells and replacing them with normal cells can result in a healthy immune system. For instance, stem cells derived from diabetic patients could be “coaxed” into healthy, functioning insulin-secreting cells with this approach. Lupus patients have also seen success with stem cell transplantation. Being that lupus can affect the organs, including the skin, muscles, kidneys, and brain, effective treatment is critical.
These are just a few examples of the enormous potential stem cell therapy holds for autoimmune conditions. As recent studies are published and more findings are shared throughout the medical community, stem cell treatments could become a reality for many people experiencing severe symptoms of autoimmune diseases.
This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for osteoarthritis, also known as stem cell therapy for Osteoarthritis. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.