Stem Cell Therapy: A Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Breakthrough in 2023?

Louis A. Cona, MD
Updated on
Dec 6, 2022

minute read

Stem cell therapy has become increasingly popular as a therapeutic opportunity for Rheumatoid Arthritis patients due to mesenchymal stem cells unique capacity to modulate the immune system.

Learn more about stem cell therapy and the science behind it.

Stem cell therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis 

As a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorder, Rheumatoid Arthritis may be helped with mesenchymal stem cell treatment. Stem cells have an unprecedented ability to change into any cell in the body.  This process is called differentiation. Stem cells can be administered intravenously to find and repair damaged tissue throughout the body. When used in regards to Rheumatoid Arthritis patients, stem cells may be able to repair damaged tissue to reduce pain and increase mobility. This effect can be attributed to the anti-inflammatory properties of mesenchymal stem cells.  

Stem cells have an immunomodulatory effect on the immune system. 

This means that stem cells may be able to regulate or calm an imbalanced immune system in patients with autoimmune disorders.  Data has shown that mesenchymal stem cells have immunosuppressive capabilities (partially suppressing the immune system response).  They can inhibit T‐cell proliferation to alloantigens and mitogens and prevent the development of cytotoxic T‐cells in vitro. (1)

“MSCs have been reported as an interesting therapeutic cell candidate for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), due to their capacity to attenuate the heightened pathogenic immune response observed in these patients.” (2)

Mesenchymal Stem cell therapy is a safe treatment option for Rheumatoid Arthritis patients.

A 2019 study conducted by Huang et al., involving 64 Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients, found that Mesenchymal Stem cell therapy is a safe treatment option. (3). All of the patients in the study showed no long term abnormalities in their routine blood examinations.

The study also found that Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy was an effective treatment option for Rheumatoid Arthritis

“There were significant decreases for the Inflammatory and/or RA Serological Makers, including ESR, CRP, RF, and anti-CCP at one year and three years after treatment. Compared with the pretreatment level from patients with RA, they showed decreased levels of ESR, CRP, RF, and anti-CCP after one year and three-year post-treatment.” (3)

The research concluded that long-term efficacy was achieved with umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cell treatment. (3)

Stem Cell Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis review sourced from Huang’s study. A 68 year-male was diagnosed with RA in 1998. (A) Shows that the patient’s hands could not be kept straight. (B) three years post-treatment, he has stopped using anti-rheumatism medicine for five years, and his hands stretch freely, and the rheumatic nodules around the joints gradually become soft and fade. (3)

This primary research concluded that patients observed for up to 8 months post-MSC therapy had no severe side effects.  

“All patients have shown improvements in the diet, sleep, and physical strength after cell therapy based on patients’ reports. In comparison, there was no such improvement in the control group. Also, the clinical response to UC-MSCs treatment was rapid (as early as 12 h post-treatment) with the physical evidence after the administration of UC-MSCs. In the placebo group, no significant changes in symptoms were detected throughout the study.” (3)

The problem with traditional therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis

According to Huang et al., “Traditional therapy for RA includes DMARDs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), slow-acting anti-rheumatic drugs (SAARDs), and hormone drugs, with high disease recurrence rate and side effects after long-term use. Treatments with hormones for a long time can result in reduced immunity and osteoporosis with sodium and water retention. Thus, such procedures have poor patient compliance. Most importantly, they cannot change the progress of the disease. Besides joint injury, RA also affects multiple tissues and organs. Traditional drug therapy could not perform the regeneration and repair of damaged tissues.” (3)

Does stem cell therapy work for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Yes, stem cell therapy may have a positive impact on RA patients.  The study conducted by Huang et al. demonstrated the long-term safety and efficacy of UC-MSC therapy in RA patients. The therapeutic effects of Umbilical Cord-Tissue Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells can be maintained for three years, with stable clinical outcomes, which significantly improved RA patients’ quality of life.

So can stem cell therapy cure Rheumatoid Arthritis?

While recent data has shown promising results, stem cell therapy can not be considered a “cure” for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).  However, mesenchymal stem cells can significantly help Rheumatoid Arthritis patients by reducing inflammation and stabilizing the immune system.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation throughout the body, mainly in the joints.  According to the Mayo Clinic, “rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues.” (4). Inflammation correlated with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) can potentially damage other areas of the body as well.

How does stem cell therapy work?

Stem cell therapy is a non-invasive treatment that aims to replace damaged cells within the body. Mesenchymal stem cell therapy can be deployed systemically via IV or injected locally to target specific sites, depending on patient needs.

Stem cells target inflammation.

The therapeutic uses of stem cells as a potential therapy for various diseases have been immensely explored. The number of clinical trials conducted with Mesenchymal Stem Cells has increased exponentially over the past few years. (4)

Stem cells have a unique, intrinsic property that attracts them to inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that stem cells can regenerate damaged or diseased tissues, reduce inflammation, and stabilize the immune system promoting better health and quality of life. Mesenchymal stem cells do this by influencing tissue repair via paracrine effects (cell signaling to change the behavior of existing cells) or direct cell-to-cell contact.

MSCs can migrate and seed specifically into damaged tissue sites, where they can differentiate into functional cells to replace damaged or diseased cells” (5)

Protocol for stem cell therapy at DVC Stem

DVC Stem uses cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells ethically sourced from AATB certified, US-donated, full-term human umbilical cords. We administer over 300 million cells that are all thoroughly tested for viability before treatment. These cells are NOT a blood product; therefore, it is extremely safe and does not require HLA or phenotypic matching. All patients undergo therapy in our VIP treatment room located within our advanced clinic. Patients are under constant supervision from both our medical director and the supporting medical team. We typically recommend that patients stay a minimum of 5 days in Grand Cayman for treatment.

Treatment at DVC Stem spans two days.‍

Day 1: Arrival in Grand Cayman.

Day 2: Physical assessments & supporting therapies.

Day 3:  Cell transplant & activation therapies.

Day 4: Follow-up physical & departure.

Our cell therapy protocol is safe & non-invasive. Patients will be able to travel the following day.

DVC Stem is partnered with an award-winning medical laboratory located in tompliant, ISO 9001, and ISO 13485 certified. Cells are only sourced from the American Association of Tissue Bank (AATB) certified suppliers of full-term, ethically US donated human umbilical cords. The selection of these donated tissues is extraordinarily regulated and strict as per the American Association of Tissue Bank (AATB) standards.

Find out if you are a candidate for treatment here.


(1) Blanc, K. L., & Ringdén, O. (2007, August 2). Immunomodulation by mesenchymal stem cells and clinical experience. Retrieved from

(2) Luque-Campos, N., Contreras-López, R. A., Jose Paredes-Martínez, M., Torres, M. J., Bahraoui, S., Wei, M., … Luz-Crawford, P. (2019, April 16). Mesenchymal Stem Cells Improve Rheumatoid Arthritis Progression by Controlling Memory T Cell Response. Retrieved from

(3) Wang, L., Huang, S., Li, S., Li, M., Shi, J., Bai, W., … Liu, Y. (2019, December 19). Efficacy and Safety of Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: A Prospective Phase I/II Study. Retrieved from

(4) Rheumatoid arthritis. (2019, March 1). Retrieved from

(5) Mao, F., Tu, Q., Wang, L., Chu, F., Li, X., Li, H. S., & Xu, W. (2017, June 6). Mesenchymal stem cells and their therapeutic applications in inflammatory bowel disease. Retrieved from

Note: This post is intended to provide general information about regenerative medicine, and related areas. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

About the author

Louis A. Cona, MD

Medical Director | DVC Stem

Dr. Cona has been performing stem cell therapy for over 12 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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