London, Nov 24 (UNI) A modified and safer form of bone marrow transplants could cure patients with common immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis , scientists have claimed.
According to the researchers at Stanford University's institute for stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, the new treatment would allow doctors to treat auto-immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and type one diabetes by giving patients a new, healthy immune system.
They reasoned that it might be possible to perform bone marrow transplants without needing risky therapy beforehand.
Hopes for the new treatment follow the development of a more efficient transplant technique which avoids the need for radio- or chemotherapy, both of which have potentially dangerous side-effects.
Traditional bone marrow transplants are used to treat only life-threatening conditions, such as leukaemia or lymphoma. The treatment infuses healthy adult stem cells into the patient, which then form fresh blood and immune cells.
In a study in mice, Professor Irving Weissman, who led the research, used antibodies to kill off blood and immune system stem cells in the bone marrow. They found the antibodies destroyed more than 98 per cent of the targeted cells.
''It is essentially a surgical strike against the blood-forming stem cells,'' the Guardian quoted Mr Weissman as saying.
Although the work is at an early stage, it offers hope for a radical new treatment of common debilitating conditions for which there are currently no cures.