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Stem Cell Therapy a Possible Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Researchers believe that stem cell therapy may soon become the best treatment option for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other autoimmune conditions. It is just the latest in a long line of new diseases that may be cured through the use of stem cells.

Previously, research into stem cells was delayed or prevented because of the ethical issues surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells. Thankfully, scientists have since discovered many new non-controversial sources of stem cells including umbilical cord blood stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. 

Much of the latest research uses autologous induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). They are cells that come from the patient’s own body and have been altered to become pluripotent stem cells, capable of turning into many other types of cells. Pluripotent cells are extremely powerful because they can turn into nearly every type of cell, including neurones, skin cells and muscle cells. Because the stem cells come from the patient, there is no risk of rejection

Researchers are performing experiments to determine how well iPSCs can heal the joint destruction caused by rheumatoid arthritis. They are also interested in repairing the immune system to completely cure the disease.

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system attack its own healthy cells. The National Institutes of Health suggest that stem cells may provide some answers as to how autoimmune diseases function and may ultimately provide a cure. In a recent statement NIH confirmed that view, saying: “Research on stem cells is now providing new approaches to strategically remove the misguided immune cells and restore normal immune cells to the body.”

One recent study from European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) showed mixed results in stem cell therapy on patients with rheumatoid arthritis and related immune system disorders. John Hopkins University are also performing research in the area, using stem cells to generate cartilage and bone to treat RA.

The FDA has not approved stem cell therapy for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, but many patients are already receiving stem cell injections with varying levels of success. Stem cell research breakthroughs are occurring very quickly and there may be a complete cure for RA within the next few years.

Source: Stem Cell Therapy a Possible Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

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