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Ulcerative Colitis May Be Treated With Stem Cell Therapy

Ulcerative Colitis May Be Treated With Stem Cell Therapy


Ulcerative colitis can impact a patient’s quality of life, causing them pain whenever they need to use the restroom. Eventually, it may lead to the complete removal of the colon and the need for an ostomy bag. This is in the most severe of cases when the colon has been damaged beyond repair. Stem cell therapy is being studied as a treatment for the repair of colons damaged by ulcerative colitis inflammation.


What is Ulcerative Colitis?


Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in your digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis affects the innermost lining of your large intestine, called the colon, and rectum. Symptoms usually develop over time, rather than suddenly. Ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and can sometimes lead to life-threatening complications. While it has no known cure, treatment can significantly reduce signs and symptoms of the disease and even bring about long-term remission. Ulcerative colitis symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of inflammation and where it occurs. Signs and symptoms may include diarrhea with blood, abdominal pain, and cramping, rectal pain and bleeding, an urgency and inability to defecate, weight loss, fatigue, and fever.


In some children, they will fail to grow at a sufficient rate for their age. Most people with ulcerative colitis have mild to moderate symptoms. The course of ulcerative colitis may vary, with some people having long periods of remission. The exact cause of ulcerative colitis remains unknown. Previously, diet and stress were suspected, but now doctors know that these factors may aggravate but don’t cause ulcerative colitis. One possible cause is an immune system malfunction. When your immune system tries to fight off an invading virus or bacterium, an abnormal immune response causes the immune system to attack the cells in the digestive tract, too.

Heredity also seems to play a role in that ulcerative colitis is more common in people who have family members with the disease. However, most people with ulcerative colitis don’t have this family history. Ulcerative colitis treatment usually involves either drug therapy or surgery. The drugs that work well for some people may not work for others, so it may take time to find a medication that helps you. Also, because some drugs have serious side effects, you’ll need to weigh the benefits and risks of any treatment. Surgery can often eliminate ulcerative colitis. But that generally means removing your entire colon and rectum.


In most cases, this involves a procedure called ileal pouch-anal anastomosis. This procedure eliminates the need to wear a bag to collect stool. Your surgeon constructs a pouch from the end of your small intestine. The pouch is then attached directly to your anus, allowing you to expel waste relatively normally. In some cases, a pouch is not possible. Instead, surgeons create a permanent opening in your abdomen called an ileal stoma, through which stool is passed for collection in an attached bag.


How Can Ulcerative Colitis be treated with Stem Cell Therapy?


Ulcerative colitis is a complicated disease to treat and can end up with the entire organ being removed. Stem cell therapy is a promising new treatment for patients who are not responding to traditional treatment methods. Stem cells can control the body’s immune response, promote cell wall healing, and can migrate to the exact area that needs healing. Early clinical trials are being conducted to treat ulcerative colitis with stem cell therapy.


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