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Adult Stem Cells Help Those With Immune Disorders, Heart Disease
Date:2/26/2008

Analysis of studies finds modest benefit with both conditions

TUESDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Treatment with adult stem cells harvested from blood or bone marrow may benefit some patients with certain kinds of cardiovascular disorders and autoimmune diseases, a new U.S. analysis shows.

There are two types of stem cells, according to background information in the study. Embryonic stem cells are harvested from embryos four to five days after fertilization. Adult stem cells are located in tissues throughout the body and provide a reservoir for replacement of damaged or aging cells.

While stem cell therapy shows great promise, "clinical application has lagged due to ethical concerns [over embryonic stem cells] or difficulties harvesting or safely and efficiently expanding sufficient quantities," the review authors noted. "In contrast, clinical indications for blood-derived [from peripheral or umbilical cord blood] and bone marrow-derived stem cells, which can be easily and safely harvested, are rapidly increasing."

Dr. Richard K. Burt, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and colleagues examined hundreds of studies of blood- or bone-marrow derived stem cells that were conducted between January 1997 and December 2007 -- 323 assessed feasibility and toxicity, and 69 looked at patient outcomes.

The review found that in 26 studies involving a total of 854 patients with autoimmune diseases there was a treatment-related death rate of: less than 1 percent (two of 220 patients) for nonmyeloablative (not causing bone marrow suppression); less than 2 percent (three of 197 patients) for dose-reduced myeloablative; and 13 percent (13 of 100 patients) for intense myeloablative regimens -- those including total body irradiation or high-dose busulfan, a drug used to treat some forms of chronic leukemia.

"While all trials performed during the inflammatory stage of autoimmune disease sugg
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