Editor’s note. The following appears on Dr. Prentice’s blog.
Dr. Richard Burt and colleagues at Northwestern University have just published a new study in The Lancet that provides more evidence for the success of adult stem cell transplant in treating system sclerosis (scleroderma). The autoimmune disease causes rigidity in the skin and organs, including lungs, of its victims; it exerts its fatal influence by essentially turning them to stone.
Ten patients were treated with their own adult stem cells, and all improved at or before 12 months after treatment, compared with zero of the nine patients that received cyclophosphamide, a chemotherapeutic agent considered the “standard of care” for this disease. None of the adult stem cell-treated patients had their disease worsen, while 8 of the 9 chemo-treated patients showed worsening, and eventually 7 of the chemo patients switched to the adult stem cell treatment.
The researchers note that the adult stem cell treatment improves skin and lung function in these patients for up to 2 years (the length of the current study) and is preferable to the current standard of care.
The new report is accompanied by a commentary by Farge and Gluckman that says the Burt et al. study provides “the best data to date for transplantation in scleroderma,” and “Despite the small number of patients and short follow-up of ASSIST, the findings of this trial are important for patients with systemic sclerosis, the medical community, and policy makers.”
Dr. Burt is featured in a recently-released video [www.stemcellresearchfacts.org/dr-richard-burt] discussing his ideas for use of adult stem cells to treat patients with autoimmune diseases. Burt and his team are using this technique to help treat patients suffering from some 23 different diseases, and the techniques he has developed are now being used in treatment centers around the globe.
Adult stem cells are helping patients now.