Doctors are increasingly prescribing stem cells to patients with inflammatory bowel disease, but questions persist about the long-term effects once transplanted cells experience a period of rejection.
For those patients, stem cells provide as much as an additional year’s worth of life, but they can also cause collateral damage — which can contribute to relapses and chronic fatigue.
To expand on those findings, scientists led by Susilia Di Stefanzi, an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, have developed a new lab-based model of IBD that promotes blood-clotting and has fewer feel-good side effects than traditional stem cell-based treatments.
It’s about 5 years old, and the median dog is already a two-year-old, but we can already see significant improvement. We are hopeful that if we stay on this pathway, [we]can likely extend it to five years, maybe 10 years. Just 10 years is very pessimistic. When something happens in 10 years, it significantly changes the outlook for the patient.”
Susilia Di Stefanzi, associate professor of biomedical sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine.
The new IBD-simulation lab-based system is aligned with U.S. Food and Drug Administration and International Therapeutics Manufacturing Development Programs (ITMedDP) Directorate of Commercialization Excellence, which is funding the development of earlier research and development of the current system.
In the system, stem cells are fused with blood vessel cells, and then through a separate microfluidic platform, connected to a specialized device that delivers targeted and customized messages, directing the cells to activate target cells that support CD4 cells that start production of anti-inflammatory autoantibodies.
Once the target cells identify the CD4 cells and start producing anti-inflammatory mediators, the mice instantly stop their frequent abnormal inflammatory bowel movement and begin to produce the natural protective CD8+ T cells (human helper cells) that are required to avoid destructive colon inflammation.
“Breast cancer represents a frequent and severe complication in patients with IBD and enhanced understanding of the functions of progenitor cell pathways may improve clinical evaluation and pharmacological treatment,” said Massimo Gillespie, Research Development and Applied Biology director of the IBD Neuroscience Fellowship and a senior scientist on the project.
Pneumonia symptoms may be more difficult to detect because the initial challenge in diagnosing cell allergies is that there isn’t any definitive prognosis, said Di Stefanzi, who is also director of UMSOM’s Center for Biotechnology.
“We still live randomised clinical trials with clearly delineated patients. Or we can very quickly have data from cohort studies and aim to reach conclusions about what is whether it’s worth treating these patients and what do, and how it would impact their health. We have no idea how long it will take to determine if the new model will for instance, actually be tolerant of the cells, is tolerable,” she said.