The confirmed potential of mesenchymal stem cells for treating lupus. Scientists have successfully tested a therapy with mesenchymal stem cells in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.
Researchers from the University Clinical Hospital of Valladolid and the Institute of Biology and Molecular Genetics (IBGM). A joint center of the University of Valladolid and the CSIC.
They have successfully tested a therapy with mesenchymal stem cells in three patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). All patients had kidney involvement and no longer responded to conventional treatments.
“Lupus usually progresses in flares, and when patients do not respond to treatment, a significant problem arises,”. Explains the researcher from IBGM.
Chronic cases with over 20 years of progression
In this study, they treated three chronic patients with over 20 years of progression. In whom the disease had significantly advanced.
Previous studies in animals and humans had suggested the potential of mesenchymal stem cells. Stem cells from bone marrow, also known as stromal cells or MSC – for their initials in English -.In the treatment of lupus, experts consider the disease to result from an alteration in mesenchymal tissue. Which gives rise, for example, to bones, muscles, or cartilage.
“There were promising data in the literature, especially in patients from Eastern countries, regarding mesenchymal cell transplantation.
In this study, published in the journal Lupus, they included three chronic patients with over 20 years of progression, in whom the disease had significantly advanced. The main condition was that they had significant renal involvement since “the simplest and most conclusive tests to determine the effectiveness of mesenchymal cell treatment are done through urine, checking if proteins are lost or not.”
Stem cell therapy for lupus.
The therapy consists of intravenously introducing 90 million mesenchymal stem cells. Doctors administered it when patients were experiencing a flare and not responding to previous treatment. The doctors monitored the patients by measuring different parameters, specific to the kidney and general, at 1, 3, 6, and 9 months after treatment.
In all three cases, the flare was stopped with good results. This allowed for a reduction in medication doses by 50 to 90%, supporting the implementation of a randomized controlled clinical trial.
Lupus is classified as an autoimmune disease. In these diseases, the immune system ‘confuses’ and does not differentiate between foreign antigens (microbes) and our own cells, which are attacked, leading to inflammation and damage to the body’s tissues.
As the name suggests, it is a systemic disease, and patients can experience flares that affect different organs such as the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, or lungs.
Patients go through phases of flares and others in which the effects subside, although there are severe cases of lupus and others that are not as serious, such as those manifested with skin conditions.
Being a chronic disease, these patients require proper follow-up and early treatment of complications. This is crucial to prevent serious damage to vital organs. However, the origin of the disease is still largely unknown, and its treatment is complex.
I invite you to learn more about the fascinating world of stem cells by reading our article, “What Are Stem Cells?“.