Stem cell therapy and autoimmune diseases

Over 80 autoimmune diseases have so far been identified[1]
Autoimmune diseases affect approximately 8% of the world’s population[2]
78% of these sufferers are women[2]
The most common autoimmune disease is type 2 diabetes[1]
At least 1 in 100 people suffer with coeliac disease in the UK[1]
There are 115,000 people living with Crohn's disease in the UK[1]

Over 80
autoimmune diseases
have been identified

What are autoimmune diseases?

An autoimmune disease is a condition that mistakenly attacks your body through your immune system. The immune system usually protects against bacteria and viruses by sending out an army of antibodies and defensive cells. However, autoimmune diseases cause these defensive cells to attack healthy cells.

Exactly how many people are affected by all the different types of autoimmune diseases in the UK is difficult to estimate. According to Diabetes UK, 1 in 10 people over the age of 40 are living with type 2 diabetes[3]. According to the British Society for Rheumatology, rheumatoid arthritis impacts approximately 700,000 individuals in the UK[4] and at least 115,000 individuals in the UK live with Crohn’s disease[5]. A 2014 research estimated an estimated 127,000 individuals across the UK suffer from multiple sclerosis[6], while lupus is believed to impact up to 50,000 individuals in the UK[7].

Therefore, in this country there are hundreds of thousands of people dealing with autoimmunity and its long-term health impacts. This puts a heavy strain on the NHS and domestic economies

Stem cell therapy research

Today, fresh stem cell research and developments are giving hope to individuals with autoimmune diseases and conditions. These stem cell therapies may help patients who don’t respond well to typical drug treatment, or who want to reduce their reliance on medication.

While stem cells may not be the cure for autoimmunity, their regenerative abilities have promising potential to decrease flare-ups of symptoms and slow or regulate the development of various illnesses. Specifically, tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been shown to produce anti-inflammatory agents that can be administered locally to relieve symptoms.

For example, in a 2016 study used umbilical cord-derived MSCs to produce T regulatory cells in multiple sclerosis patients.[8] Additional human clinical studies have shown that intravenous injection of MSCs is safe and feasible for MS treatment[9].

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