Immunologic/Autoimmune Disease

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We offer stem cell therapies for the following immunologic/autoimmune conditions and diseases:

Diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus Type II
Individuals with type II diabetes have difficulty using insulin properly. In some cases, insulin resistance prevents the body from utilizing glucose (sugar) properly, while in other cases, the body fails to produce enough insulin to maintain normal blood glucose. Both insulin resistance and failure to produce insulin in adequate amounts result in hyperglycemia (elevated blood glucose) causing symptoms such as increased thirst and urination, increased hunger, fatigue, blurry vision, slow wound healing, frequent infections, or areas of darkened skin. Prolonged elevated blood glucose can lead to serious complications such as atherosclerosis, retinopathy (damage to the blood vessels in the eyes), nephropathy (kidney damage), and neuropathy (damage to nerves in your hands and feet). Treatment for diabetes mellitus type II includes dietary modification, exercise, weight reduction, and various pharmacologic therapies. Stem cell therapy holds promise in addressing regeneration of insulin-producing cells as well as repairing tissue damage that may have occurred.

Diabetes Mellitus Type I

Type I diabetes, also known as insulin dependent diabetes, is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas resulting in little to no insulin production. Without insulin, glucose cannot enter the cells to make energy and, instead, remains in elevated concentrations in the blood, resulting in increased thirst, increased urination, increased hunger, weight loss, and/or blurry vision. Insulin treatment is imperative for individuals with diabetes mellitus type I. While treatment with insulin maintains blood glucose levels, it does not address the autoimmune cause of hyperglycemia. Stem cells may offer the possibility of regenerating insulin-producing pancreatic cells as well as recruiting and increasing the body’s immunosuppressive cells.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease common in middle age, especially in women. The disease affects peripheral joints, including the wrists, feet, ankles, and knees. The cause is unknown and eyes and skin also can be involved. Early aggressive therapy with immunosuppressive drugs and anti-inflammatories appears to delay joint destruction. More recently, biologic agents have been added to regimens that include TNF inhibitors, WBC modulators, and growth factor inhibitors. Research is ongoing to evaluate the effects of stem cells on auto-immune conditions. According to the Journal of Translational Research, “The ability of MSC to inhibit immune response, while offering the possibility of inducing/accelerating healing of tissue that has already been damaged, makes this population attractive for treatment of autoimmune disorders.”

Crohn’s

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that occurs in half a million people in North America. It may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus, causing a wide variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea (which may be bloody if inflammation is at its worst), vomiting (can be continuous), or weight loss. Skin rashes and arthritis can also occur. Crohn’s disease has a genetic component, but it is an auto-immune disease in which the person’s own immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract possibly directed at microbial antigens. The terminal ileum is the part of the bowel most often affected in this disease. Treatment often includes immune-suppressant therapy with steroids. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatories are also used extensively. In Europe, stem cells are used commonly to treat Crohn’s. Research is ongoing to evaluate the effects of stem cells on auto-immune conditions. The Journal of Translational Research reports that “non-expanded SVF cells have been used successfully in accelerating healing of Crohn’s fistulas.”

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the colon. UC involves an autoimmune response where the immune system mistakes food, bacteria, and other materials in the large intestine as foreign or invading substances. This causes the immune system to send white blood cells into the lining of the intestines, which causes the lining to become inflamed and ulcerated, causing abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. In general, symptoms involve bowel movements that are loose, urgent, bloody, and causes cramping. The cause of UC is believed to be the combination of genes, immune system dysregulation, and environmental triggers. Current treatment options are anti-inflammatory medications and other medications to control and suppress symptoms. Due to their ability to divide, renew, and become tissue and organ-specific cells, stem cells offer the possibility of acting as an internal repair system in the colon to replace diseased and damaged tissues.

Relapsing Polychondritis

Relapsing Polychondritis is an auto-immune condition characterized by the body attacking its own cartilage. Polychondritis patients suffer from recurrent relapsing episodes of painful cartilage inflammation. Susceptible areas include ears, nasopharynx, heart valves, and blood vessels. As stated in Annals of Internal Medicine, “Relapsing Polychondritis…can be life-threatening and debilitating.” The disease is life threatening and debilitating. There is no one specific test for identifying Polychondritis and the course of the disease is often unpredictable. Treatment consists of anti-inflammatory medications and immune suppression with corticosteroids. Research is ongoing to evaluate the effects of stem cells on auto-immune conditions. According to the Journal of Rheumatology Supplements, “the opportunity to ablate (with autologous stem cells) severe autoimmune disease with increased safety is particularly attractive for necrotizing vasculitides, polymyositis/dermatomyositis, primary Sjögren’s syndrome, systemic juvenile arthritis, and relapsing Polychondritis.”

Scleroderma

Scleroderma is a systemic autoimmune disease that primarily affects skin and joints, but can affect the heart, lungs, and digestive tract. The destruction of Scleroderma is due to the damage of endothelial and smooth muscle cells of small arteries, which are replaced with fibrous material and an inflow of inflammatory cells. Standard treatment of Scleroderma involves immunosuppressive drugs. Mesenchymal stem cells are under investigation for their potential regenerative, immune-regulatory, and anti-inflammatory properties. As recently stated in Best Practices & Research Clinical Rheumatology in a review of Scleroderma, “Stem cell transplantation seems to be promising in restarting the immune system to diminish fibrosis and restore microvasculature.”

Lupus

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, considered a collection of diseases, is an auto-immune disorder in which the immune system attacks healthy tissues, especially in the joints (especially fingers, wrists, hands, and knees). Patients often develop fatigue, rash, and swollen lymph nodes, but many body parts can be affected. As with other auto-immune conditions, anti-inflammatory medications and immune-suppressants are used commonly for treatment. Sometimes cytotoxic drugs are used for severe cases. Research is also ongoing to evaluate the effects of stem cells on auto-immune conditions.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating neurological disease that is thought to be caused by destruction of the myelin sheaths (fatty protective insulation) around axons of the brain and spinal cord. Loss of myelin impacts the ability of these tissues to conduct signals and the inflammatory process can lead to scarring resulting in a broad range of symptoms. This myelin damage appears to be related primarily to an auto-immune dysfunction, but there also appears to be environmental and genetic factors involved. There is no known cure for the physical and cognitive defects associated with chronic MS. Many investigators are looking at using the regenerative properties of cell therapy to mitigate the impact of MS on the nervous system.

Thyroid

An underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism, is a condition in which the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks its thyroid, resulting in inflammation and hypothyroidism. Since thyroid hormone is responsible for maintaining the body’s metabolic processes, hypothyroidism results in symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, depression, and hair loss. New research on mesenchymal stem cell therapy has shown promise in treating thyroid conditions such as hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, offering a possible alternative to thyroid medication.

PATIENT TESTIMONIALS:

63-year old male with osteoarthritis in his bilateral knees and shoulders

“My knees are much better and I have minimal pain walking uphill. Before the Stem cell injections, I would wake up with stiffness and pain each day and now I do not have the stiffness and pain and my quality of life has improved. I have more energy.”

Read more orthopedics patient testimonials

36-year old male, 3 months after stem cell procedure to knee:

“I’m doing really well, I fell so much better and only have slight pain when walking upstairs compared to before when I had pain all the time. My Range of Motion is better and I’m back surfing again!”


Bilateral Shoulders & Knee, 1 year post stem cell procedure:

“Thanks to the stem cell treatment I received from Dr. Herskowitz and his staff a year ago, I am able to swim laps in the pool, and practice Pilates with almost full range of motion in my shoulders and my right knee.  I am so grateful for having been treated with my own stems cells, and steadily improving as time passes.”


70-something-year-old Woman Bilateral Hips – 6 weeks post stem cell treatment:

“It is the first time I have been pain free in 3 years, there is only an awareness in that area of the worst hip but nothing like it used to be, I am very happy.”


“The procedure was painless. By the time I got home, I needed to take a pain pill, but none since. The cells are settling in and there’s some inflammation so use ice packs, but no major discomfort. Just slept a very sound 10 hours! My energy of course is heightened due to the cell boost, so feel great! Dr. Herskowitz called me last night. Both he and Dr. Melnik are excellent people/health oriented docs.”


4 mos. Post SVF – Knee “80% improvement, now can do rigorous bike riding and hiking, knee is so much better, and is happy and impressed with results.”


“The orthopedic surgeon told me the cartilage in my shoulders was disappearing and one day I would need to have shoulder replacements. I was in a lot of pain and have very limited movement in my shoulders. I researched answers other than surgery for relief of pain…stem cell possibilities led me to Dr. Herskowitz. I received injections of my own stem cells into my shoulder joints. As days and weeks pass I have more and more range of motion, I’m a little stiff now and then, shoulder pain is gone. I am very pleased with the care, patience, and attention from Dr. Herskowitz.”


“I discovered that I had a torn meniscus in my right knee. After much research, I found that having surgery could ultimately end up causing even more pain in the future. Just prior to having the surgery, I was informed that Dr. Ahvie Herskowitz at the San Francisco Stem Cell Treatment Center (SFSCTC) & Anatara Medicine could see me for a consult on stem cell therapy. After much research I was convinced that the stem cell therapy could not only possibly repair/rejuvenate the torn meniscus, but that the side effects of the therapy could possibly repair/rejuvenate other health issues as well. Due to their thorough assessment, physical exam, and consult by Dr. Herskowitz et al, they developed a multi-faceted approach to my ailments. The pain and the collapsing of my knee almost completely dissipated immediately after the stem cell treatment. Additionally, my overall health and well-being has also greatly improved. I’m so very thankful for the tender, patient, care, and support that was provided by Dr. Herskowitz & his staff. He and his staff are genuinely interested in the success and well-being of their patients. They don’t just give a “quick fix” to something that’s wrong with the body and move on to the next patient. They do have a vested interest in their patients – proven by their follow-up procedures. At the SFSCTC & Anatara Medicine, they create an individualized plan of attack as they work in concert on various levels with the patient. The best outcome, ultimately, would be that the patient’s body could truly heal from within and ultimately work as a finely tuned instrument that provides many more years of enjoyment – pain free!”

RELATED ARTICLES:

Allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell treatment alleviates experimental and clinical Sjögren syndrome

Sjögren syndrome (SS) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by dry mouth and eyes, and the cellular and molecular mechanisms for its pathogenesis are complex.

Read More About Allogeneic Mesenchymal Stem Cell Treatment

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People with MS may have lower levels of certain nutrients

According to a newly released study that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC this April, women with multiple sclerosis (MS) may have lower levels of important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as folate and vitamin E, than healthy people. This study was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

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Stem Cell Therapy for Thyroid Issues: A New Frontier

One of the great hopes for stem cell regeneration therapy is the potential to grow healthy organs from scratch. In late 2014, MedPage Today reported that researchers in New York City had induced human embryonic stem cells into thyroid cells, and are exploring the possibility of creating a like-new thyroid gland in patients who have had their thyroid surgically removed. The research was announced at the 2014 annual American Thyroid Association meeting. READ MORE


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San Francisco Stem Cell Treatment Center

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