Hope of cure for arthritis, MS and diabetes as Stanford makes stem cell transplants safe
Hundreds of thousands of people could be cured of autoimmune diseases like arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and lupus after scientists discovered how to make stem cell transplants safe.
Autoimmune diseases trigger the body into attacking itself but transplants of bone marrow stem cells from healthy donors have been shown to reset the immune system and reverse fatal conditions.
However doctors have been reluctant to carry out the treatments as before the healthy cells can be given, the patient must be stripped of the malfunctioning immune system using radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
If and when this is accomplished, it will be a whole new era in disease treatment and regenerative medicineProf Irving Weissman, Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine
In 20 per cent of cases the patient dies from this stripping procedure and usually surgeons will not attempt a transplant unless there is no other hope.
But Stanford University has now shown it is possible to remove the defective immune system using a new technique which encourages the body to eat up the malfunctioning blood cells.
So far, researchers have proven it works in animals but are hopeful that it will also be effective in humans.
"If it works in humans like it did in mice, we would expect that the risk of death from blood stem cell transplant would drop from 20 per cent to effectively zero," Dr Judith Shizuru, professor of medicine at Stanford.
"The chemotherapy and radiation used for transplant damage DNA and can cause both immediate problems and long-term damage to many tissues in the bo Continue reading