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Stem cell therapy: An effective Crohn’s Disease treatment in 2020?

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.

Reading time: 4 minutes 30 seconds

David Lyons

Guest contributor

Mar 18, 2020

Louis A. Cona, MD

Medical Director of DVC Stem

Stem cell therapy clinic in Grand Cayman

Mar 18, 2020

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 for 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


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.

Stem cell therapy for Crohn's Disease
Pictured: Mindmap showing the potential benefits of stem cell therapy for Crohn's Disease


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.

What is Crohn's Disease?

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.  


What causes Crohn's Disease?

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.  


Can genetics cause Crohn's Disease?

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)


Environmental factors that may cause Crohn's Disease

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)


Treatment for Crohn's Disease

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:

  • Anti-inflammatories (steroids, etc.)
  • Painkillers
  • Immunosuppressants (to control the bodies inflammatory response)
  • Antibiotics (to heal any ulcers or infections)
  • Surgery (to remove the affected area of the intestinal tract)


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.



Effective alternative treatment for Crohn's Disease

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


How do stem cells help Crohn's Disease?

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)


Is stem cell therapy for Crohn's Disease safe?

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.


Will my body reject stem cells?

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).


Do the cells have to be HLA matched?

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.


In conclusion

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


References:  


(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.

"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

3 DAYS POST TREATMENT

Tyler explains his experience at DVC Stem in the Cayman Islands.

Tyler is optimistic that he will see positive results post treatment.

"The cool thing about the Cayman Islands besides being beautiful, it was an opportunity to get some rest and relaxation allowing my body to heal and restore. I'm back in the US now and feel like I am ready to conquer the world."

- Tyler Heid

2 WEEKS POST TREATMENT

2 weeks post treatment, MS patient Tyler is beginning to see amazing progress. He has been wheelchair bound for the last year and has not been able to move his legs unassisted before now.

Tyler Heid, lifting his foot 12" off the ground with 2 lb weights on his ankles.

Tyler - 2 weeks post treatment

"I'm on a path of progression and I'm getting better and better each day."

Tyler Heid - 2 months post treatment

2 MONTHS POST TREATMENT

Tyler updates about his progress, explaining the amazing response he has been receiving from his friends and family.

"People coming up to me saying I am moving, talking and smiling so much better. They are noticing a lot of things that have improved over the course of 3 months."

"This morning I was able to do things that I was unable to do before, I was able to stand up and lift my leg higher than I ever have before."

5 MONTHS POST TREATMENT

5 months post treatment Tyler sends us an update on his progress.

"I'm able to smile better, I have more control over the left side of my face."

"I have an increased ability to grip, lift my legs higher and higher which has gone well."

Tyler is optimistic and on the right track to recovery. We are ecstatic to see his progress and look forward to more updates from him.

"I have an increased ability to grip, lift my legs higher and higher which has gone well."

Tyler Heid - 5 months post treatment

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.

Are you a candidate?

Complete our online application form to find out if you qualify for stem cell therapy.

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About Our Medical DIrector

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.

Are you a candidate?

Complete our online application form to find out if you qualify for stem cell therapy.

APPLY FOR TREATMENT

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