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Bone marrow stem cells may help control inflammatory bowel disease
Date:8/20/2008

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators have found that infusions of a particular bone marrow stem cell appeared to protect gastrointestinal tissue from autoimmune attack in a mouse model. In their report published in the journal Stem Cells, the team from the MGH Center for Engineering in Medicine report that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), known to control several immune system activities, allowed the regeneration of the gastrointestinal lining in mice with a genetic mutation leading to multiorgan autoimmune disease.

"Our findings suggest that MSC therapy could become a useful treatment for inflammatory bowel disease," says Biju Parekkadan, PhD, of the Center for Engineering in Medicine, the paper's lead author. "Several previous studies have observed these cells' ability to inhibit specific subsets of T cells and relieve symptoms in particular autoimmune disorders. But this is the first demonstration of their ability to suppress a broad-based autoimmune reaction and protect gastrointestinal tissue."

Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system loses control over lymphocytes (white blood cells) that attack an individual's own tissues. Treatments for these diseases more than 80 conditions, ranging from type 1 diabetes to rheumatoid arthritis to gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn's disease are primarily directed against symptoms; and even those that target the immune system do not completely suppress the out-of-control response. Found in the bone marrow, MSCs give rise to tissues supporting blood cell development and secrete factors that can modulate several immune system activities. Their use has recently received FDA approval to treat severe graft-versus-host disease in children.

The current study was designed to investigate MSCs' therapeutic potential in a model of multiorgan autoimmune disease. The researchers used a strain of mice in which a genetic mutation leads to deficiency in regulatory T c
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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