A recent study published in Clinical and Experimental Medicine provides new evidence that mesenchymal stem cell transplantation may be a safe treatment option for patients who suffer from systemic lupus erythematosus and who do not respond to conventional treatments like immunosuppressive drugs and steroids. Previous studies that have examined the efficacy and safety of mesenchymal stem cell therapy for lupus patients have suggested that the procedure is safe. In those studies, few if any adverse side effects have been observed.

Given the promise of mesenchymal stem cells for treating systemic lupus erythematosus, the scientists conducting the current study wanted to more comprehensively evaluate the technique’s safety. They studied 9 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus who were not responding to immunosuppressive drugs or steroids. The patients underwent umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell transplantation and were evaluated immediately following the procedure and again 6 years earlier.

To evaluate safety, the researchers performed tests of the blood, urine, and liver. They also checked the heart with electrocardiograms, did chest radiography, looked at white blood cell and platelet counts, and checked for markers of cancer. None of the tests the researchers performed demonstrated adverse side effects of the umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell transplantation either immediately after or 6 years after the procedure. One patient experienced a warm sensation with dizziness following the transplantation, but no patients experienced headaches, nausea, or vomiting.

These results help to bolster the idea that mesenchymal stem cells may provide a safe therapeutic option for systemic lupus erythematosus patients who do not respond to conventional therapies. Studies that evaluate both longer-term safety of the procedure as well as its efficacy in improving the symptoms and progression of lupus will help scientists and clinicians better understand how stem cell regiments can be used to help lupus patients.

To learn more about stem cell therapy for lupus patients, click here.

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