Possibly good news for people suffering from autoimmune illnesses: Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have managed to transplant new blood-forming stem cells into the bone marrow of mice, effectively replacing their immune systems.
Although this treatment is not ready to be performed on humans yet, there’s hope that this could be a possible cure for autoimmune diseases. A transplant would give the person a new immune system, a reboot if you will.
In order for it to work, stem cells would have to be injected into the person’s bone marrow where they could generate cells of the blood. However, in order to produce a new immune system, old stem cells must be destroyed with chemotherapy or radiation.
In a person with autoimmune disease, that new immune system would likely no longer attack tissues of the body. Likewise, in people with a genetic disorder such as sickle cell anemia, the new blood system would not have the sickle-cell mutation, eliminating the cause of disease. However, the barriers are still significant.