Advanced techniques in stem cell therapy may lead to new treatment options for those with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

MultiStem is a stem cell treatment therapy currently in development by Athersys in partnership with Pfzier. Athersys is currently targeting MultiStem as a treatment for a variety of illnesses such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease but also things like recovery from stroke, heart problems & transplant rejection. Multistem starts by harvesting stem cells from the bone marrow of a donor. Due to the technique that Athersys uses the donor does not have to be a tissue match for the recipient like in some other stem cell treatments. Supposedly it is also easy to mass produce MultiStem as a single donor can produce hundreds of thousands or even millions of doses.

While the exact science behind stem cells & MultiStem is not completely understood, it appears that MultiStem helps modulate the immune system reducing inflammation, repairing cells & reducing chances of rejection(in transplant patients). Currently MultiStem is in Phase II trials for Ulcerative Colitis. MultiStem has already showed benefit for one of it’s targets areas, heart problems, after just Phase I trials, which normally are meant to test safety & not efficacy. Hopefully we’ll see more positive results from the Ulcerative Colitis study as well. (Athersys Website)

In a related news story, Worcester News is running a profile on a 20 year old woman with Crohn’s Disease who will be receiving an experimental stem cell treatment. The treatment involves harvesting her stem cells from her bone marrow, placing her on chemotherapy for 11 days, which is suppose to suppress her immune system & then reintroducing the previously harvested stems cells back into her body. The goal is to essentially “reboot” her immune system so it stops attacking her digestive tract. This isn’t the first time this treatment has been tried for people with various types of diseases.

Hopefuly we’ll continue to see further advances & more positive news coming from the stem cell front.