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Blog / Stem Cells

Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy (MSCT) for Lupus

Stem cell therapy may be one of the most promising new dimensions of medicine for the treatment of Lupus, especially for people who do not respond well to more traditional forms of treatment.

Updated:

July 20, 2021

David Lyons

Guest contributor

Jul 20, 2021

Louis A. Cona, MD

Medical Director | DVC Stem

Stem cell therapy may be one of the most promising new dimensions of medicine for the treatment of Lupus, especially for people who do not respond well to more traditional forms of treatment.

Stem cell therapy for Lupus 

Stem cell therapy may be one of the most promising new dimensions of medicine for the treatment of Lupus, especially for people who do not respond well to more traditional forms of treatment.  

Physicians have been treating Lupus patients with mesenchymal stem cells for over ten years.  One meta-analysis conducted by Liu S. et al.  states that over eight studies have been conducted on the safety and efficacy of cell therapy for Lupus, with over 200 total participants.  


“Evidence showed that Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) could improve the disease activity, proteinuria (reduction of protein in urine) and hypocomplementemia (marker to represent disease activity) in Lupus patients.” (3)


Although the meta-analysis does state that large scale and high-quality randomized controlled trials are required to validate the efficacy and safety of MSC treatment in SLE patients. (3)

A clinical study conducted by Jun Liang. et al. found that allogeneic stem cell therapy significantly reduced disease activity in Lupus patients.  

The study included 15 patients with persistently active Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).  The outcome evaluated by changes in the SLE disease activity index (SLEDAI), serological features (anti-nuclear antibodies and anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA)), renal function and percentage of peripheral blood regulatory T cells. (4)

What is Systemic lupus erythematosus?

Also known as Lupus, it is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune condition. Lupus can cause a wide range of responses from cold-like symptoms to organ failure. These can include; swelling, inflammation, damage to the skin, and vital organs. It is most commonly associated with the butterfly-shaped skin rash that develops on a person’s face. Lupus affects over 5 million people worldwide, and there is currently no cure.  


What causes Lupus? 

Lupus is typically caused by a genetic disposition mixed with environmental circumstances.  People with a genetic predisposition may have a higher chance of lupus development if exposed to specific environmental components. Lupus is most often diagnosed in women between the ages of 15 and 45.


Drug-Induced Lupus

It is also possible to contract Lupus symptoms from certain prescription medications.  According to Medical News Today:

Drugs that are commonly associated with this form of Lupus are:

  • Hydralazine, a hypertension medication
  • Procainamide, a heart arrhythmia medication
  • Isoniazid, an antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis (TB)

Drug-induced Lupus usually disappears after the person discontinues the medication.

The immune system provokes symptoms

Most often, the immune system is used to protect the body from bacteria, viruses and other threats.  In patients with autoimmune conditions such as Lupus, the immune system has trouble distinguishing healthy cells within the body from foreign antigens.  This immune deficiency causes inflammation, pain and tissue damage. (1)


Symptoms of Lupus Disease

Cojocaru, M. et al. outlines these common manifestations of Lupus:

  • Rash
  • Chest pain
  • Hair loss
  • Inflammation
  • Muscle & joint pain
  • Sensitivity to sun
  • Kidney issues
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Ulcer in the mouth


Symptoms can flare in response to sunlight, minor infections, and even prescribed medicines. Like other autoimmune disorders, Lupus triggers cells in the body to begin attacking the body itself. This autoimmune response causes large amounts of harmful inflammation in the body, which can quickly lead to more severe complications. 

Although common symptoms are minor and treatable, such as rashes and joint pain, severe cases of Lupus can lead to organ failure. Lupus has shown the ability to cause failure of the kidneys, central nervous system, circulatory system, lungs, and heart.

Lupus rash on womans face
Pictured: Lupus rash, commonly forms symmetrically


Is there a cure for Lupus?

There has not been a cure found for Lupus, and it is treated today as most other autoimmune diseases. The patient may be prescribed a series of anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and biologics. These potent medications have harmful side effects and often diminish a patient’s quality of life. In some instances, they are ineffective at reducing the symptoms present.  However, recent studies and trials have shown significant positive results for the treatment of Lupus with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).


So how do Mesenchymal Stem Cells help Lupus?

Stem cells are naturally occurring immature cells with the unique ability to “differentiate,” or transform, into many other types of cells in the body. They typically find damaged cells and inflammation in the body and begin to repair and replace those cells. Everyone has stem cells in their bodies. However, our stem cells age over time and their numbers and effectiveness diminish as we get older.


Researchers have begun using mesenchymal stem cell transplants to treat autoimmune diseases. It was thought that supplementing the body with a high amount of new stem cells would boost a patient’s ability to fight inflammation and reduce symptoms caused by autoimmune disorders. Mesenchymal stem cells are sourced from bone marrow, donated cord tissue, or other tissues in the body. The benefit of using these cells is that they are readily available, the body does not reject them (do not require a donor match), and there is no need for chemotherapy to receive treatment. Additionally, MSCs are some of the most potent stem cells available for cellular therapy.


According to Liang et al., mesenchymal stem cells act as immunomodulators that can suppress the activity of T regulatory cells.  MSCs may be associated with the expansion of T regulatory cells, which can suppress the activity of autoreactive T cells, which can play a crucial role in self-tolerance.  (4)


References: 

(1) Brazier, Y. (2018, November 12). Lupus: Causes, symptoms, and research. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323653.php#types.

(2) Cojocaru, M., Cojocaru, I.M., Silosi, I., Vrabie, C.D. (2011). Manifestations of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Maedica: A Journal of Clinical Medicine; 6(4): 330-336.

(3) Liu, S., Guo, Y. L., Yang, J. Y., Wang, W., & Xu, J. (2018, December 18). Efficacy of mesenchymal stem cells on systemic lupus erythematosus: a meta-analysis. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30562774.

(4) Liang, J., Zhang, H., Hua, B., Lu, L., Shi, S., Hou, Y., … Sun, L. (2010, August 1). Allogenic mesenchymal stem cells transplantation in refractory systemic lupus erythematosus: a pilot clinical study. Retrieved from https://ard.bmj.com/content/69/8/1423.long.

"Dr. Cona is a leading edge stem cell treatment physician"

Matthew Murry - MS Patient

2 DAYS POST TREATMENT

"Is the video I posted from this morning! My speech is so easy for me now, got easier throughout the day! I can talk like a NYer (fast) for the first time in years! Praise God!"

- Matthew Murry

EXCITING IMPROVEMENTS

Only 3 days after treatment, Matthew is now able to touch his nose with his eyes closed as well as touch his thumb and pinky together. Both of which he was previously unable to do before treatment.

We are excited to see his continued progress. His story will be updated here so keep an eye out!

Matthew showing his progress with mobility

Matthew Murry - 3 days post treatment

"This is exciting stuff, god bless"

Matthew Murry - MS Patient

2 WEEKS POST TREATMENT

Matthew experiences sensation in the bottom of his feet after receiving a simple nerve test.

His left foot did not experience any sensation or move at all, but what happened to his right foot is extremely exciting!

50 DAYS POST TREATMENT

Matthew is now able to lift his leg unassisted. He was previously unable to do so.

Matthew is experiencing the benefits of stem cell therapy first hand. You can view his progress video here.


Matthew showing some amazing mobility improvements.

Matthew Murry - 50 days post treatment

"Amazing progress from one of our MS patients Matthew Murray"

Louis A. Cona, MD - DVC Stem

3 MONTHS POST TREATMENT

Matthew is able to stand up with the assistance of stability bars.

David Lyons

Multiple Sclerosis

Although David Lyons was able to successfully fight Multiple Sclerosis through a strict regimen of diet and exercise, he wanted to ensure he was doing everything he could to stay fit. Multiple Sclerosis can be managed with treatment, but there is currently no cure for the disease. For that reason, David came to DVC Stem years ago to use the regenerative and anti-inflammatory attributes of stem cells to aid in his fight for fitness.

The positive results he experienced enabled David to stay strong in the gym, now into his 60s, and that is why he continues to support our clinic to this day.

About the author

Louis A. Cona, MD

Louis A. Cona, MD

Dr. Cona has been performing stem cell therapy for over 10 years. He is a member of the World Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (WAAAM). He is also a recognized member of the British Medical Association, the General Medical Council (UK), the Caribbean College of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. He is the Medical Director for DVC Stem a world-renowned stem cell therapy clinic located in Grand Cayman.

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