Although stem cells have been shown to have great potential in curing autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes (see my first post about stem cell treatments for more information), there is one key issue that prevents this cure from being viable: 1 in 5 patients die from the process of stripping the body of the part of the immune system that is ill.
However, this will no longer be the case with Stanford University’s novel discovery of antibodies that attach to malfunctioning cells (usually blood stem cells) and tag these cells for removal by macrophages, whose role is to devour any potentially toxic substances in the body. This consequently ensures that the transplanted stem cells can be introduced safely into the body and can take up residence in the bone marrow, thus creating a new immune system with close to zero risk of death.
This process will hopefully replace radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which are currently used in this process to strip the body of the malfunctioning immune system and often result in several toxic side effects such as damage to the brain, liver and reproductive organs.
What makes this treatment even more useful is that it can be used with many autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis in addition to being one way of removing the need for immunosuppressant drugs after organ transplants in order to prevent the immune system rejecting donor organs.
Source: Hope of cure for arthritis, MS and diabetes as Stanford makes stem cell transplants safe from telegraph.co.uk, by Sarah Knapton