November 18, 2010

Umbilical Cord Cells Treat Arthritis?

(Ivanhoe Newswire) "“ Umbilical cord stem cells may be useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to in vitro experiments done on animals.

The researchers show that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) taken from the umbilical cord blood can suppress inflammation and weaken collagen-induced arthritis.

"Very little is known about umbilical cord MSCs, and there has been no previous report about their use in the treatment of RA. MSCs can exert profound immunosuppression, which encourages their use in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, such as RA," Professor Zhan-guo Li was quoted as saying. "At present, the most common source of MSCs has been bone marrow. However, aspirating bone marrow is an invasive procedure and the number and the differentiating potential of bone marrow MSCs decrease with age. In contrast, the collection of umbilical cord MSCs does not require any invasive procedure."

The researchers took immune cells from RA patients and showed that the umbilical MSCs were able to suppress the cell's proliferation, invasive behavior and inflammatory responses. Infusing the mice with MSCs was shown to significantly reduce the severity of collagen-induced arthritis. Speaking about the results, Professor Li said, "RA imparts a massive burden on health services worldwide and none of the currently used agents reaches long term drug-free remission. Therefore, a new and more effective therapy for RA will be very welcome."

SOURCE: Arthritis research and Therapy, published online November 15, 2010