We have traditionally avoided the treatment of patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). The reason was that with our cultured procedure, it was very difficult to grow cells in these patients, often because of the large number of medications used to control their disease. RA is different from osteoarthritis. While traditional arthritis (osteoarthritis-OA), is a wear and tear problem (joints wearing out), RA is an inflammatory problem where the body attacks itself. These patients are often on significant drugs with severe toxicity to the body (many are immune suppressants). Animal studies have shown that mesenchymal stem cells may be helpful in treating RA. Recently we tried our Regenexx-SD for the knee of such a patient and tried APC (Autologous Platelet Concentrate) for one hand joint. We have confirmed that our APC contains Blastomere Like Stem Cells (CD66e positive using flow cytometry). Here’s the rheumatoid arthritis stem cell patient’s report at about 2 weeks out:
“My knee is definitely better, can almost climb stairs like a normal person, but don’t push it. The real miracle is the stem cell…on my left hand. WOW!! The swelling and pain in my knuckles disappeared the next day, my hand is now straight, and doesn’t look deformed, and for the first time in 2 years I can open some cans and bottles. The wrist bone also looks a lot less swollen. When it is cold my shoulders still hurt a little, and I am a bit stiff after sleeping all night.”
What may have happened in the hand? The growth factors from the platelets may be modulating the swelling or it could be the BLSC’s. Either way, while the early report is encouraging, more time and patients will be needed to confirm these results. Does this means stem cells can heal RA? NO. This is just an interesting observation from a very low risk therapy, but one I thought worth sharing. If you’re an RA patient, I would take nothing from this observation other than this approach may be something to keep an eye on at this point. Until we know how long this effect lasts, the stem cells may be no better than a simple steroid shot.