Lupus is a tenacious autoimmune disease, affecting about 1.4 million people in the U.S. Considered a high risk disease for mortality and organ damage, a recent study has discovered that fat-derived stem cells can restore lupus to normal body functions.
According to the Mayo Clinic and the Lupus Research Institute, one of the four types of lupus is referred to as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)---the most common and serious form of the disease. For milder cases of lupus, OTC anti-inflammatory meds and pain relievers can be successfully used. Otherwise, more effective treatments and medications are needed that are prescribed individually, as advanced lupus can affect each person in a different way.
The Hospital for Special Surgery website reports that a successful treatment for lupus should balance the disease as the symptoms flare and subside. However, until recently this balance was not met. And, as the disease continues, there is an 8% increase in the risk of new organ damage, according to Med Page Today.
The assessment was done at the University College London, involving multiple organ systems: respiratory, vascular, neurologic, musculoskeletal, mucocutaneous, and general---with 92% of the patients being women and 63% of them white.
Those at risk for lupus
The Lupus Research Institute has found that those at risk for lupus are women of childbearing age, usually Asian, Latino, African-American and Native American descents. New organ damage is seen to occur more often in Afro-Caribbean patients and Asians.
The disease affects approximately 75 individuals out of one million, with no known cure. The mean age of patients in studies, such as the University College London, was 30 with a nine-year median follow-up.
This is why women’s issues are such a large factor, as there is a nine-to-one ratio of lupus that affects women over men. These issues consist of pregnancy, atherosclerosis and osteoporosis---in particular if the woman has been on steroids.
Previous treatments for lupus
The typical treatment to control the deadly symptoms of lupus has been steroids or immunosuppressive drugs. An extremely painful and unbearable disease, it has caused many lupus patients to have suicidal thoughts because of its painful life-threatening symptoms.
FDA-approved drugs to control lupus symptoms for the past 40 years have been antimalarial drugs, azathioprine, cyclophosphamide and prednisone.
Stem cell treatment for lupus
The latest study on treatments for lupus was done at the Samsung Bioscience Research Institute of the Samsung Medical Center, with the goal of using an injection of the patient’s own adult stem cells to strengthen the person’s immune system. Stem cell treatments are more effective when lupus is detected early in its symptoms.
Referred to as a stem cell transplant, Mayo Clinic publishes that the patient is “given a drug that coaxes the adult stem cells out of your bone marrow and into your bloodstream. The stem cells are then filtered from your blood and frozen for later use. Strong immunosuppressive drugs are administered to wipe out your immune system. Then the adult stem cells are put back into your body where they can rebuild your immune system.”
The ANA Test
One of the new and update testing for lupus is the ANA test, detecting antinuclear antibodies in the person’s blood. A positive ANA test shows that a person’s immune system has begun an attack on its own tissues, called an autoimmune reaction. The antinuclear antibodies discovered in the ANA test are attacking the healthy cell’s nucleus of the body’s tissues.
The ANA test is prescribed to rule out possible diseases, as there are many rheumatic diseases that have similar symptoms. These include fever, joint pain and fatigue. Once the ANA test comes up positive, the blood can be tested for a particular type of antinuclear antibodies to pin-point the disease.
In the PR Newswire, the research team leader, Dr. Jong-Chan Ra, stated, "Based on this study, diseases that are difficult to treat, such as lupus have much potential to be treated through stem cell injection. We will further our research to find ways to cure chronic diseases."
Dr. Jong-Chan Ra’s research team collaborated with the research institute, led by Dr.Eun-Hwa Choi, on using the patient’s fat-derived stem cells. The findings were publicized in the global research journal, Arthritis and Rheumatism, on September 15, 2011.