A Chinese research study investigated if human derived stem cells can treat induced colitis in mice.

The researchers were specifically interested in studying human umblical cord mesenchymal stem cells which have a poor immunogenic response. This means they are less likely to trigger the immune system into attacking them. At the same time mesenchymal stem cells have potent immunosuppressive qualities, in that they suppress the autoimmune system response. Given these properties, they are being investigated extensively for treatment in those who have autoimmune related diseases.

The researchers in this study induced colitis in mice via trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid. They then transplanted human umblical cord mesenchymal stem cells into the mice. The mice were monitored while alive via immunofluorescent microscopy. The stem cells were shown to have migrated to the inflamed colons of the mice & effectively treated the colitis. Further examination also showed lowered levels of the inflammatory messengers “cytokines” , specifically Interleukin-17,  Interlukin-23, Interferon-γ & Interleukin-6 which have been indicated in previous Inflammatory Bowel Disease research.

Steam cells appear to be a promising treatment option, but marketable treatments are still a ways off in the future.

Research was done at the Institute of Hematology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Peking Union of Medical Sciences lead by Dr. Zhong Chao Han. Study