STEM CELL THERAPY AS A CURE FOR RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)?


Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the patient’s immune system generates

cellular and antibody responses to various components of the joint such as type I collagen. As a result

of this immune response, not only does joint destruction occur, but also other complications such as

pulmonary fibrosis, renal damage, and even heart damage.

RA causes painful swelling to joints as well as destruction of the cartilage and a weakening of the

surrounding muscles, ligaments and tendons occurs, all of which can make it very difficult to move.

Some patients with RA experience persistent joint damage and pain, while others alternate between

flare-ups and periods of remission. This condition may also lead to microvascular dysfunction and

severe cardiovascular risk

A hallmark of RA joint pathology is chronic inflammation of the synovium (synovitis), which causes

cartilage and bone erosion via interplay between infiltrating inflammatory/immune cells and the

resident fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs).

Current treatment modalities for RA & their Limitations:


Rheumatoid arthritis is currently treated with immune suppressive agents such as

steroids, methothrexate, cyclosporine, gold, and more recently infliximab (Remicade).

Despite inducing temporary improvement, these approaches possess long-term adverse effects due to

non-specific inhibition of immune responses. When disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs

(DMARDs) like methotrexate are not effective, biologics like abatacept (Orencia), adalimumab

(Humira) or etanercept (Enbrel) may be recommended.

None of these treatments address the issue of damage that has already occurred to the joints or extraarticular tissues and this is where Stem cell therapy comes into picture.

Which kinds of stem cells are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and how are they obtained?


Adult stem cells called allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are used to treat rheumatoid

arthritis. These cells are harvested from your own body.

How are mesenchymal stem cells administered for rheumatoid arthritis treatment?

They are typically injected into the affected joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Stem Cell Treatment Protocol


A typical 4-day rheumatoid arthritis treatment protocol involves,

• Medical evaluation and blood testing

• Joint Injections over the course of 3-5 days.

How stem cells offer benefit to patients with RA?

Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) have tremendous flexibility to make a variety of different cell

types, including bone, fat, muscle, cartilage, bone marrow and tendon. MSCs offer lasting benefit or at

least some relief to patients with RA as well as address microvascular complications by carrying out the

important jobs of:

• Improving blood flow

• Reducing inflammation

• Repairing and replacing damaged tissue

• Halting destructive immune system response

MSCs localise to inflamed tissue and start producing anti-inflammatory agents. These mediators act

locally and do not suppress the immune response of the patient’s whole body. Additionally, MSCs

induce the production of T regulatory cells, a type of immune cell whose function is to protect the body against immunological self-attack.

MSCs produced a significant decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-α, both of which

are temporarily targeted by many current RA treatments – without the long-term side effects.

Transplanted MSCs do not lead to extensive graft rejection even when the donor and recipient are

unrelated.

Thus, the mechanisms through which MSCs can influence joint disease processes are diverse and

include immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory effects, trophic/paracrine effects and direct

contribution to tissue repair.

FURTHER READINGS:

1. http://www.pmlive.com/pharma_news/stem_cell_therapy_promising_for_rheumatoid_arthritis_936715

2. http://www.medpagetoday.com/rheumatology/arthritis/46630

3. http://www.healthline.com/health-news/stem-cell-therapy-a-possible-treatment-for-rheumatoid-arthritis-010516

4. https://rheumatoidarthritisnews.com/2015/12/15/stemgenix-ra-clinical-study-stem-cell-therapy/

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