Crohn's Disease (also called: ileitis) is characterized by inflammation within the digestive tract that can lead to debilitating symptoms. Mesenchymal stem cells can target and reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, even deep within the stomach lining. Stem cell therapy also has a strong immunomodulatory effect, that may have the ability to slow or even stop the progression of the disease. Thus, stem cell therapy may be a valuable treatment option for Crohn's patients.
January 14, 2021
Jan 14, 2021
Medical Director | DVC Stem
Mesenchymal stem cells can target and reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, even deep within the stomach lining. Stem cell therapy also has a strong immunomodulatory effect, that may have the ability to slow or even stop the progression of the disease.
Stem cell therapy may help Crohn's Patients through these processes:
Stem cell research has shown that cell therapy may have the ability to promote the repair of diseased, dysfunctional or injured tissue. There have been many positive and exciting outcomes for patients who have had little success with conventional treatments.
The therapeutic uses of stem cells as a potential therapy for a variety of diseases have been explored immensely. The number of clinical trials conducted with Mesenchymal Stem Cells has increased exponentially over the past few years. (2)
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 modulate the immune system promoting better health and quality of life. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) do this by influencing tissue repair via paracrine effects (cell signalling to change the behaviour of existing cells) or direct cell-to-cell contact.
Crohn's is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) that typically affects the terminal ileum (outer ends of the intestines) but can affect the entire gastrointestinal tract, from mouth to anus.
Left untreated, Crohns Disease can result in a full-thickness inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract causing pain, discomfort, irregular bowel movements, and digestive issues.
The exact etiology (cause) of Crohn's Disease is currently unknown. Although, it is considered that a variety of factors may be responsible, including genetics, environmental stress, smoking, diet, ethnicity and the use of oral contraceptives.
According to Mara Rendi, MD, Ph.D., there is an apparent genetic predisposition for Crohn's.
"First-degree relatives have a 13-18% increase in incidence, and there are concordance rates of 50% in monozygotic (identical) twins. Classic Mendelian inheritance is not seen, implying a polygenic basis of the disease." (1)
According to Rendi et al.,
"Environmental factors, especially cigarette smoking and diet, are also clearly involved in this disease. Tobacco smoking doubles the risk of both initial and recurrent Crohn disease (CD), unlike the apparent protective effect of tobacco seen in ulcerative colitis. Improved food storage conditions and decreased food contamination may also contribute to the increase in incidence." (1)
Currently, there is no known cure for Crohn's Disease. Fortunately, the condition can be managed with the proper treatment regime.
Common medications used to manage Crohn's are:
Unfortunately, all of these medications aim at merely reducing the severity of symptoms and can have little effect on the underlying cause of the disease, inflammation. Also, anti-inflammatory drugs may cause a plethora of adverse side effects, many of which can cause even more discomfort or even induce serious complications.
In regards to Crohn's Disease, stem cell therapy has produced significant improvements among patients at DVC Stem.
"We have seen a massive reduction in Crohn's related symptoms in patients that have completed our stem cell protocol. These include reduced abdominal pain, bowel movements, loose stool and increased energy levels." - Dr. Louis A. Cona, MD
These results can be achieved because Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) can migrate and seed accurately into damaged tissue sites, where they can differentiate into functional cells to replace damaged or diseased cells."
According to a study conducted by Mao F. et al.
"Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) facilitate tissue regeneration through mechanisms involving self-renewal and differentiation, supporting angiogenesis and tissue cell survival, and limiting inflammation." (3)
Yes, the intravenous administration of cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells is a safe procedure for Crohn's patients.
DVC Stem (stem cell clinic in Grand Cayman) has not had any patients report harmful effects from treatment or a worsening of their condition. Common short-term side effects immediately following the cell transplant have been fatigue, headache, and nausea. These effects typically subside between 1-2 hours.
Cord-tissue derived mesenchymal stem cells do not have any risk of rejection within the body. They are youthful, immune-privileged, undifferentiated cells that have no chance of rejection in the body because they have yet to be “claimed.” There are no blood products associated with them either, removing the need for a donor match; they are universally accepted. These cells seek out inflammation in the body and begin to heal the damaged tissue. Mesenchymal cord tissue-derived stem cells have been administered thousands of times at clinics around the world without instances of rejection (graft vs. host disease).
No, cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells do not need to be HLA matched because there are no blood products involved. The cells are immune-privileged, meaning that they don’t have markers on them that would trigger an immune response in the body.
Stem cell therapy is a safe treatment for a variety of chronic conditions. (4) Traditional therapies for Crohn's Disease may only help combat the symptoms of the condition rather than the underlying cause, inflammation. Stem cell therapy is proving to be a handy tool to reduce inflammation at the source, naturally, without any harmful side effects. This ability, paired with its immune-modulatory effects potentially make stem cell therapy for (IBD), and Crohn's Disease an efficacious treatment option
(1) Rendi, M., & Swanson, P. (2019, November 9). Crohn 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.
About the author
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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