Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis with Cord Blood

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the joints. Clinical trials are underway to test ways cord blood can provide relief to RA sufferers.

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), is an autoimmune disease that causes persistent inflammation in the joints, leading to chronic pain. When the body goes through these reactions, joints naturally start to degrade, and other areas are negatively affected — including the heart.

Symptoms of RA

Common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Tenderness in joints
  • Swelling
  • Tissue bumps appearing underneath the skin
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent fever
  • Weight loss

Researchers are testing new therapies for rheumatoid arthritis. So far, results are positive, with subjects showing improved muscle control, joint recovery and cellular growth.

Stem cells and rheumatoid arthritis

Doctors traditionally use medications, like steroids, methotrexate and cyclosporine to treat RA. However, while these supplements are effective for short-term treatment, over time they can actually make symptoms worse. None of these medications actually improve the core symptoms of RA.

Clinical trials using stem cells show they can greatly improve a variety of arthritis conditions. In animal trials, stem cells improved recovery time for horses, boosting the immune system and healing process. These cells regenerated damaged tissues, and also protected the subject’s body from outside diseases during healing.

While many treatments can increase the risk of infection, stem cells naturally improve the immune system, and fight off additional side effects.

Stem cell therapy

While bone marrow is the traditional source for stem cells, researchers are finding cord blood cells safer, faster and more adaptable. When a mother gives birth, the umbilical cord is collected, and stem cells are cryogenically stored for later use. These cells are instantly accessible if a patient needs them in the future.

Compared to bone marrow, cord blood cells have a much smaller chance for graft-versus-host disease, which causes donated cells to attack the host’s body. While bone marrow transplants require an exact match, cord blood can treat patients, even if the donor is not a perfect cellular match. This means patients have more treatment options, and may receive treatment much quicker.

Advantages of cord blood treatment

  • Since cord blood cells don’t require an exact match, patients using cord blood treatment will have more options
  • Cord blood stem cells are the most anti-inflammatory cells in the body
  • Unlike the painful transplant process using bone marrow, collection for cord blood will not harm the baby or the mother
  • Researchers believe cord blood may be the most potent source of stem cells in the entire body – even when compared to bone marrow cells

Cord blood stem cells treat over 80 diseases, including many autoimmune disorders. In the near future, conditions like rheumatoid arthritis may be treated with these cells. Find out more about the benefits of cord blood here.