A new clinical trial funded by NIH showed stem cell transplants to be far superior than immunosuppressants in the treatment of scleroderma. Scleroderma is a life-threatening autoimmune disease.

Scleroderma generally shows symptoms such as hardening of skin and connective tissue. It is  also a systemic disorder which involves all the internal organs. The treatment options for this condition is very limited. The only available treatment option for this conditions is the employment of anti-rheumatic drugs and immunosuppressants. No other medication has proven to be of any long-term use.

In a clinical trial, 2 sets of samples groups were chosen. All patients of the two groups had diffuse systemic involvement such as impairment of the lung or kidney. One was given cyclophosphamide (immunosuppression) and the other group was treated with stem cell transplant. The group who was given transplant showed better survival rate and improved quality of life. In the transplant group few residual short-term risks such as infections and low blood cell count were also apparent, but these risks lasted only for a brief while.

The stem cell transplant included chemotherapy, and total body radiation through which the affected bone marrow cells were destroyed. Then the stem cells were infused to reconstitute the new bone marrow cells and immune system.

There are a host of autoimmune disorders which are crippling with just meagre possibilities of intervention, if stem cell treatment can offer such improvement, this will definitely be a breakthrough for patients suffering from such conditions. Dr. Anthony Fauci of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that, the result of the growing evidence of stem cell transplants for autoimmune disorders prove that they should be considered as a potential treatment regimen.

The participants of the clinical trial who were offered stem cell transplant were followed for the span of 6 years to assess the safety and durability of the regimen. The patients showed excellent long-term prognosis to rebuild the bone marrow and normal functioning of the immune system.

With a multitude of clinical trials done, stem cell transplant is expected to be the game-changer in the treatment of autoimmune conditions. So make sure the purest form of stem cells that can be harvested from the umbilical cord of the newborn baby is cryo-preserved at a renowned stem cell bank offering community banking model. To know more about banking your baby’s umbilical cord stem cells:https://goo.gl/jwYjmx


KM Sullivan et al. Myeloablative autologous stem cell transplantation for severe scleroderma. New England Journal of Medicine DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1703327 (2018).