Article updated on:
November 24, 2023
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Stem cell therapy for Crohn's disease offers a promising approach to repairing damaged intestinal tissue and reducing inflammation, potentially alleviating symptoms like abdominal pain and slowing disease progression.
This innovative treatment is particularly significant for patients who have had limited success with conventional treatments, as it can promote tissue repair and heal scar tissue in the large intestine.
Stem Cell Therapy for Crohn's Disease
Stem cell therapy for Crohn's disease is an exciting and innovative treatment option that has the potential to revolutionize the way we treat the condition. Stem cell therapy has been vastly studied and is not a new treatment for Crohn's disease.
Studies have shown that stem cells can reduce inflammation and promote healing. This cutting-edge therapy is promising in clinical trials and is being researched further to understand its long-term efficacy.
With continuing research and development, stem cell therapy has the potential to become a widely available and highly effective treatment option for those living with Crohn's disease. Stem cell therapy may help Crohn's Patients through these processes:
- Reduction in inflammation throughout the digestive tract
- Regulating the immune system (to control immune response)
- Repairing injured tissue within the gastrointestinal tract (through stem cell differentiation)
Multiple peer-reviewed studies have found that Mesenchymal stem cell therapy is an effective and safe treatment for complex perianal fistulas in patients with Crohn's disease who did not respond to traditional or biological therapies.
Stem cells reduce inflammation by positively influencing the immune system
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a type of stem cell found to have immunomodulatory properties. They can modulate the immune response, benefiting individuals with Crohn's disease.
T-cell activation within the gastrointestinal tract leads the body to conduct an immune response leading to chronic inflammation causing pain and discomfort. Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) can target inflammation within the body and repair damaged tissue. This makes stem cell infusions an effective treatment for inflammatory conditions such as Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis, or other inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).
Reducing inflammation in the digestive tract
Research has shown that MSCs can suppress the pro-inflammatory response in the gut and promote the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines. In a study published in the Journal of Crohn's and Colitis, MSCs were found to reduce the inflammatory response in a mouse model of Crohn's disease and improve the healing of the gut tissue.
In another study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, MSCs were found to reduce the activity of T-helper 17 cells, which are known to be involved in developing chronic inflammation in severe Crohn's disease.
MSCs have also been found to differentiate into different types of cells, including those found in the gut, which can further help repair and regenerate damaged tissue in the stomach.
A Remarkable Recovery: A Case Study on the Efficacy of Stem Cell Therapy for a Patient with Inflammatory Bowel Disease
A patient with a history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) presented with moderate to severe ulcers in the cecum, as observed during an initial colonoscopy in November 2021. The patient sought alternative treatment options to manage inflammation and improve overall quality of life.
The patient underwent stem cell therapy at DVC Stem in 2022 and made specific lifestyle changes, including abstaining from alcohol consumption. No other alterations to the patient's treatment regimen were made.
Follow-up and Outcomes
Twelve months after undergoing stem cell therapy, the patient reported significant improvements in strength and physical well-being, participating in weightlifting and walking regularly. Additionally, the patient experienced a marked reduction in nighttime inflammatory pain.
A follow-up colonoscopy performed on January 26, 2023, revealed a considerable decrease in the number and severity of cecal ulcers, with only 6-8 superficial ulcers observed, compared to the 13-14 moderate to severe ulcers found during the initial colonoscopy. Based on the patient's improved condition, the gastroenterologist recommended extending the interval between colonoscopies to 3-5 years, provided the patient continued to feel well.
This case study highlights the potential benefits of stem cell therapy in managing inflammatory bowel disease and improving the overall quality of life. The patient's recovery, as evidenced by a reduction in the number and severity of ulcers, increased strength, and an enhanced sense of well-being, suggests that stem cell therapy may offer a promising alternative treatment for patients with IBD.
Stem cells are not a new Crohn's Disease treatment
Stem cells are the body's raw materials, from which all other cells with specialized functions are created. Mesenchymal stem cells are adult stem cells with self-renewal, immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, signaling, and differentiation properties.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) self-renewal capacity is characterized by their ability to divide and develop into multiple specialized cell types in a specific tissue or organ. MSCs are widely used in treating various diseases due to their self-renewable, differentiation, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties. In-vitro (performed in a laboratory setting) and in-vivo (taking place in a living organism) studies have supported the understanding of the mechanisms, safety, and efficacy of MSC therapy in clinical applications. (3)
Stem cells promote regeneration
According to a 2018 study conducted by Cigna et al., mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) mainly exert their regenerative effects through paracrine and endocrine action modes, including immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, mitogenic, anti-apoptotic, anti-oxidative stress, anti-fibrotic, and angiogenic influences." (1)
What are the benefits of stem cell treatment for Crohn's Disease?
- Cost-effective: Intravenous stem cell therapy may be more cost-effective in the long term than biologics, which can be expensive and require ongoing treatment.
- Potential for extended remission: Intravenous stem cell therapy can induce long-lasting remission and improve the quality of life for individuals with inflammatory bowel disease.
- Symptom improvement without side effects: Intravenous stem cell therapy may improve symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease without the adverse side effects associated with other treatments.
- Safe: Intravenous stem cell therapy is considered safe, with minimal risks and complications associated with the procedure.
- Improve fistulas: A recent study found that mesenchymal stem cells can effectively improve fistula tracts and other Crohn's disease symptoms.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells effectively treat Crohn's Disease Perianal Fistulas
According to a study by Barnhoorn et al., stem cell treatment was associated with significantly lower clinical disease activity for people with Crohn's disease and improved quality of life four years post-treatment. T
he study examined the patient's medical history and the diameter of the group's Fistula tracts (an abnormal connection between two body parts, often causing pain).
The study found that 75% [3/4] of the patients had complete clinical fistula closure after four years, as determined by the absence of discharge. MRI evaluation after four years showed an improvement in the fistula tracts in 67% [6/9] of MSC-treated patients [Figure 1].
We have shown that the efficacy of mesenchymal stem cell therapy for perianal Crohn's disease fistulas was maintained for up to 4 years after treatment.
Is there a Crohn's Disease cure?
Currently, there is no cure for Crohn's disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The treatment focuses on reducing inflammation, managing symptoms, and achieving remission. Key aspects of treatment include:
- Medication: This includes anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressors, antibiotics, and medications for symptom management like diarrhea and pain.
- Lifestyle Changes: Dietary modifications and stress management play a significant role in symptom management.
- Surgery: In severe cases, surgery might be necessary to remove damaged parts of the digestive tract. However, it's not a cure, as inflammation can recur.
Despite being a chronic condition, effective management strategies can help individuals with Crohn's disease lead active and fulfilling lives. Regular consultations with healthcare providers and adherence to treatment plans are essential for effective disease management.
Can Stem Cells Cure Crohn's Disease?
No, stem cells have notbeen proven to cure Crohn's Disease, however significant positive results are being found in pre-clinical and clinical trials.
In one study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, researchers injected mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into patients' digestive tracts with Crohn's disease. They found that the treatment resulted in a significant reduction in inflammation and improved symptoms in many of the patients.
Stem cell research for Crohn's disease
Stem cell therapy is also being researched as an option to treat complications associated with Crohn's disease. Research has shown that stem cell therapy can effectively promote disease remission and significantly improve symptoms of Crohn's disease.
Advances in stem cell therapy have already improved serious complications with Crohn's disease and, in the future, may make Crohn's disease curable over the next decade.
Stem cells may promote remission
Additionally, some people with Crohn's disease may experience periods of remission with no or mild symptoms. Maintaining remission for extended periods with appropriate treatment is possible, but relapse is still common.
Working with a healthcare provider to develop an individualized treatment plan that addresses the patient's specific needs is vital. Treatment aims to improve the quality of life, not to provide a complete cure.
Using stem cells as an Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment
Inflammation is prevalent in disorders ranging from heart disease and diabetes to IBD and Crohn's Disease. Treatment of these diseases, as well as many other common conditions, usually addresses reducing inflammation in the body. Whether through drugs, diet and lifestyle changes, or other natural methods, the goal is to eliminate as much inflammation from the body as possible.
Researchers have shown over the years that Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) are among today's most robust anti-inflammatory tools. Many patients are turning to stem cell therapy to meet their needs.
Studies show promising results
According to a study by Shimizu et al, MSCs have been reported to have an immunosuppressive effect by polarizing anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages and reducing both dendritic cells and neutrophils through prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and IL-10 at the wound site. MSCs can also reduce T and B lymphocytes' activity by modulating their proliferation and differentiation.
Several phase I/II clinical studies have been conducted for autologous and allogeneic MSC transplantation (MSCT). In this trial, 53% of patients had clinical remission, and endoscopic improvement was observed in 47% at 42 days after transplantation.
Crohn's Disease Case Study | DVC Stem
In February 2020, DVC Stem conducted a Crohn's case study with impressive results. This study presented a 25-year-old Caucasian American woman previously diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and has a history of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and adrenal, thyroid, and anemia issues.
She lived mainly without these indications until 2011, when her condition worsened, prompting medical intervention. She reported low energy, frequent bowel movement, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramps.
She has been prescribed Decadron 0.75mg, a Remicade infusion (TNF Alpha blocker) for inflammation, and medications for diarrhea, nausea, and reflux. She was also using the narcotic Norco for pain management. The patient reported being unable to function daily and quitting school due to her ailments.
Inflammatory marker improvement
Pre-treatment lab work was conducted to determine baseline conditions. The required labs include inflammation markers to document any abnormally high levels of inflammation expected in Crohn’s patients.
Her bloodwork indicated a TNF Alpha of 8.3 (normal range 0.0-2.2). The patient also completed a vitality questionnaire which determined her subjective condition across 24 different overall health metrics for comparison post-treatment.
The patient did not have significant changes in blood pressure, oxygen level, or body temperature during treatment. She did not report any adverse responses within 24 hours of her treatment date.
Treatment results after three months
Three months post-treatment, the patient reported significant improvement in symptoms. During a follow-up physical exam, she said a complete reversal of her bowel and abdominal pain symptoms.
Her post-treatment vitality questionnaire indicated a 95% improvement in bowel movements, abdominal discomfort, and blood per rectum and a 70% improvement in energy level.
Reduced intestinal inflammation
Her bowel movements had decreased from 12 to 15 per day to 1 per day, and blood per rectum from 8 to 10 per day to zero. She reported not taking Dacedron since her treatment without any adverse effects.
She had sustained higher levels of energy and said that she had begun attending school once again to pursue higher education, which was not possible before the treatment
The study highlights the potential of stem cell-based therapy, particularly mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), as a promising new treatment for refractory inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Crohn's disease. Key findings include:
- Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy: This therapy is emerging as an effective option for chronic inflammation in the digestive tract, potentially reducing symptoms and flare-ups in Crohn's disease patients.
- Safety and Immunomodulatory Effects: Barnhoorn et al. concluded that long-term stem cell therapy is safe for Crohn's disease patients. MSCs exhibit a strong immunomodulatory effect, preventing incorrect immune responses and reducing inflammation.
These insights suggest that stem cell therapy could be a significant advancement in treating Crohn's disease and other related inflammatory conditions.
Where to Get Stem Cell Therapy for Crohns?
DVC Stem in the Cayman Islands offers advanced stem cell treatments, which may hold potential for managing various conditions, including Crohn's Disease.
Our patient-funded clinical studies and use of umbilical cord tissue-derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells are part of their innovative approach to regenerative medicine. Interested individuals can learn more about our innovative mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) treatment protocol here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Medicine for Crohn's Disease?
The best medicine for Crohn's disease varies based on individual factors such as symptoms, disease severity, and treatment response. Commonly used medications include:
- Aminosalicylates: Drugs like sulfasalazine and mesalamine for mild to moderate symptoms, reducing gut inflammation.
- Corticosteroids: Prednisone and budesonide to manage inflammation during flare-ups, typically for short-term use.
- Immunomodulators: Azathioprine and methotrexate suppress the immune system, often used when other drugs are ineffective.
- Biologic Therapies: Targeted treatments like infliximab, adalimumab, and vedolizumab for moderate to severe Crohn's.
- Antibiotics: Metronidazole and ciprofloxacin for treating or preventing infections.
- Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs): Emerging as a potential therapy for their immunomodulatory effects, particularly in refractory cases.
Medication choice depends on individual needs and should be discussed with a healthcare provider. Alongside medication, lifestyle changes like diet and stress management are vital. While these treatments manage symptoms and may induce remission, they are not cures for Crohn's disease. The primary goal is to reduce inflammation, manage symptoms, and enhance quality of life.
How Common Is Crohn's Disease?
Crohn's Disease is not common, prevalence varies widely, with estimates in Western countries ranging from 200 to 300 cases per 100,000 people. Crohn's disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), is characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Key points include:
- Age of Onset: Often diagnosed in young adults, though it can affect individuals at any age.
- Prevalence: Varies widely, with estimates in Western countries ranging from 200 to 300 cases per 100,000 people.
- Increasing Incidence: The disease is becoming more prevalent in many parts of the world.
- Contributing Factors: Genetics, environmental factors, and the gut microbiome's composition are believed to influence its development.
What is the Latest Treatment for Crohn's Disease?
As of November 2023, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have emerged as a novel treatment for Crohn's disease. Clinical trials, including a 2016 phase III study, have shown that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are effective in treating fistulizing Crohn's disease, with adipose-derived MSCs significantly increasing fistula closure rates.
While MSCs, a minimally invasive treatment, reduce inflammation and aid tissue repair, their effectiveness varies based on several factors, and more research is needed to fully understand their potential and long-term effects.
How Serious is Crohn's Disease?
Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, varies greatly in severity and often significantly impacts quality of life. Key aspects of its management and impact include:
- Complications: It can cause fistulas, strictures, and abscesses, with fistulizing Crohn's being particularly severe and challenging to treat.
- Medication Efficacy and Side Effects: Long-term management often involves anti-TNF therapy, which may not be effective for all, achieving complete remission in only about 25% of patients. Serious side effects necessitate discontinuation in approximately 26% of patients on anti-TNF therapy. Steroids and azathioprine, used in treatment, also pose significant side effect risks.
- Surgical Interventions: Surgery, such as surgical resection, may be necessary for some patients, as observed in 36% of individuals in a follow-up study.
Crohn's disease's impact on life quality varies among individuals, and treatments can have serious side effects, underlining the need for personalized management strategies. For more insights, explore the studies on PubMed and NIH.
(1) Rendi, M., & Swanson, P. (2019, November 9). Crohn's Disease Pathology. Retrieved from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1986158-overview#a3
(2) Mao, Fei, et al. "Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Their Therapeutic Applications in Inflammatory Bowel Disease." Oncotarget, Impact Journals LLC, 6 June 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28402942.
(3) Watt, Fiona M, and Ryan R Driskell. “The Therapeutic Potential of Stem Cells.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, The Royal Society, 12 Jan. 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2842697/.
(4) Levy, Michael L., et al. “Phase I/II Study of Safety and Preliminary Efficacy of Intravenous Allogeneic Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Chronic Stroke.” Stroke, vol. 50, no. 10, 2019, pp. 2835–2841., DOI:10.1161/strokeaha.119.026318.
(5) Zhang XM, Zhang YJ, Wang W, Wei YQ, Deng HX. Mesenchymal Stem Cells to Treat Crohn's Disease with Fistula. Hum Gene Ther. 2017 Jul;28(7):534-540. doi: 10.1089/hum.2016.095. PMID: 28132518.
(6) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Crohn's Disease. (https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/crohns-disease) Accessed 5/25/2020.
(7) Rubin DT, Feld LD, Goeppinger SR, Margolese J, Rosh J, Rubin M, Kim S, Rodriquez DM, Wingate L. The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America Survey of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patient Health Care Access. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2017 Feb;23(2):224-232. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000000994. PMID: 27997434.