22 Oct Patients with Meningitis May Have Hope With Stem Cell Therapy
Meningitis can be a particularly concerning disease because it affects the brain and spinal cord. The damage to the central nervous system can lead to death in some cases of meningitis. Stem cell therapy is being considered as a treatment for patients with meningitis because of its effectiveness in the field of regenerative medicine.
What is Meningitis?
Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, which are the three membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can occur when fluid surrounding the meninges becomes infected. The most common causes of meningitis are viral and bacterial infections. Other causes may include drug allergies, certain cancers, and fungal infections. Some forms of viral and bacterial meningitis are contagious. They can be transmitted by coughing, sneezing, or close contact. The symptoms of viral and bacterial meningitis can be similar in the beginning. However, bacterial meningitis symptoms are usually more severe. The symptoms also vary depending on your age. Viral meningitis is the most common type of meningitis. Viruses in the Enterovirus category cause nearly all of the cases of viral meningitis. Viral meningitis typically goes away without treatment. However, some cases do need to be treated. Bacterial meningitis is contagious and caused by infection from certain bacteria. It’s fatal if left untreated.
Fungal meningitis is a very rare type of meningitis in which a fungus spreads from your bloodstream to your brain or spinal cord. People with a weakened immune system are more likely to develop fungal meningitis. This includes people with cancer or HIV. Each type of meningitis has a slightly different cause, but each ultimately acts in the same way: A bacterium, fungus, virus, or parasite spreads through the bloodstream until it reaches the brain or spinal cord. There, it sets up in the lining or fluids around these vital body parts and starts developing into a more advanced infection. A meningitis infection may produce bacteria in the bloodstream. These bacteria multiply and some release toxins. That can cause blood vessel damage and leaking of blood into the skin and organs. A serious form of this blood infection can be life-threatening. Gangrene may damage skin and tissue. In rare cases, amputation may be necessary. Pneumococcal meningitis is a rare but serious and life-threatening form of bacterial meningitis. Many people carry bacteria called Streptococcus pneumonia in their throat and the back of the nose. These bacteria are responsible for common illnesses like pneumonia, sinus infections, and ear infections. From time to time, however, those bacteria manage to cross the blood-brain barrier and cause inflammation and infection in the brain, spinal cord, or fluids immediately surrounding them.
How Can Stem Cell Therapy Help Patients with Meningitis?
Stem cells have been used successfully to treat the brain and nervous system in a variety of other conditions. They can regrow brain cells and create new neuron pathways where the damage occurred. Stem cells are being studied in animal models to treat meningitis. Researchers believe that they can treat the effects of meningitis with stem cells by implanting them into areas of the brain and spinal cord where the infection has caused the most damage.