Can Stem Cell Therapy Treat Scleroderma?

Can Stem Cell Therapy Treat Scleroderma?

Scleroderma is an autoimmune skin disease caused by the working of the immune system against certain organs and the skin. Although regarded as a skin disease, it can have its effects on lungs, blood vessels, other internal organs. According to the Scleroderma Foundation, there are a total of 300,000 people in the US suffering from this disease.

While no permanent cure has been determined with limited treatment options available, scientists have recently established that the slight changes in the immune system can alter the progression of Scleroderma. This brings us back to the question, can stem cell therapy treat scleroderma?

Stem cell therapy is making powerful promises with its ability to restart the immune system, restoring the microvasculature and reducing fibrosis. Stem cells are developed in the bone marrow. From embryo they develop into adult blood cells that are used by the body as red and white blood cells, and platelets.

Stem cell therapy works by the following processes:

  • Extra stem cells are extracted by stimulating the bone marrow.
  • The respective patient is given a high dose of chemotherapy to destroy the immune system.
  • The selected cells are then transferred back to the body to recreate the immune system.

Stem cell therapy is currently under clinical trials, being tested for its ability to repair the damage done in the body by the autoimmune diseases.

The types of cells harvested through this therapy include:

  • HSCs

An abbreviation for hematopoietic stem cells, these are found in the pockets of bone marrow surrounded by the stromal cells. These stem cells have the ability to become originators of the immune system and blood cells, which differentiate into other mature cells.

HSC are developed in abundance throughout the life to repopulate immune and blood system.  These cells can be harvested from peripheral blood, bone marrow, and umbilical cord blood.

  • MSCs

MSCS cells have the ability to self-replication and differentiate into other types of cells such as muscle, cartilage, bone, fat, and neural cells. These cells are mostly collected through the bone marrow, however, can also be harvested from the placenta, dental pulp, umbilical cord, and thymus.

The use of MSC comes with the advantage of no side effects, the ease of growth and enrichment with patient’s safety during the transplant.  These cells do not take genetic defects.

  • NSCs

These cells renew themselves time and again. They are found in the central nervous system with the capacity to renew and develop into astrocytes, neurons, and oligodendrocytes.

What can it do for scleroderma patients?

This therapy, which is quite novel still can assist with managing the debilitating symptoms of scleroderma. It can do so in the following ways:

  • Improve range of motion
  • Diminish tightness in muscles
  • Regain joint and muscular use

The use of stem cells for scleroderma seems promising because of the abilities of the cells found within the body. The repairing of the body with a modification of the same seems tricky but understandable. Specialists believe that the success of stem cell transplant for not only this but for other autoimmune diseases may help develop a permanent cure for these conditions.

 

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