Stem Cell Therapy for Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is one of many health conditions that commonly inflict people yet have no definitive cure. It can be managed with a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and a modified diet. However, there is still a risk of patients relapsing if they manage to achieve remission.

It is for this reason that many people turn to alternative treatments. One of the most promising options for many patients is using stem cells for Crohn’s disease. However, before a patient considers this, they must be aware of the specifics. 

This article will discuss using stem cell therapy for Crohn’s disease, the procedure, as well as the expected results.

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Stem Cell Therapy for Crohn’s Disease
Dr. Aleksandra Fetyukhina, MD

Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor

What is Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease is a bowel disease that causes inflammation of the lining of the intestine. However, a patient may experience symptoms anywhere on the path of food through the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to anus. Even though this inflammation is immune-related, not all medical experts consider it an autoimmune disease.

The cause is still unknown, but the studies show that it is likely a combination of genetics, environmental and immune factors. People who have siblings with this disease have around a 30 times higher chance to develop it themselves. It has also spread out more in developed countries and the urban surroundings. Eastern Europe has the most cases of Crohn’s disease (around 3 people per 1,000 are diagnosed). It usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30 and both males and females are equally affected. Smoking, animal protein intake and stress are all linked to this condition.

Stem Cell Therapy for Crohn’s Disease
There are several types of Crohn’s disease, depending on the part of the digestive tract it is affected.

Crohn’s disease is often mistaken for ulcerative colitis, because the symptoms are quite similar. However, while this condition can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, ulcerative colitis targets only the colon. Diagnosing Crohn’s can be challenging, but the most effective method is colonoscopy.

Although patients with Crohn’s have only slightly reduced life span in general, a number of different complications can end up being fatal, which is why it is important to be cautious and do the appropriate treatments.

How Crohn’s disease manifested?

Symptoms may vary but most commonly include abdominal pain, diarrhoea (bloody, in severe cases), fever, fatigue, mouth sores, decreased appetite and weight loss. This can lead to many complications, and those suffering from inflammation of the lining of the intestine carry a higher risk of bowel cancer.

Periods of flare-up and remission are characteristic of this disease. Many people experience the symptoms years before they get diagnosed.

How is the disease treated?

This chronic condition has no cure, although medications and treatments can be helpful in calming down the symptoms or stopping a flare-up from occurring. Drugs that are most commonly used include corticosteroids, in order to stop the symptoms, and methotrexate or a thiopurine to prevent relapses. 

It is noted that an individual diet is effective in preventing relapse associated with inflammation of the digestive tract. Also, smokers are strongly advised to quit their habit because it affects the symptoms of disease significantly.

Even with treatments, around half of people end up needing surgery in the course of the first ten years with a disease. Stem cell therapy for Crohn’s is a more recent treatment consideration.

The advantages of stem cell treatment for Crohn’s disease

This condition is a hard battle to deal with and it can be very difficult to control the symptoms. Until recent stem cell discovery, there was nothing powerful enough on the market to help the disease and reverse the damage as well. Stem cell therapy at Swiss Medica clinic offers exactly that.

There are quite a few advantages that have been seen in patients who have had stem cell Crohn’s treatment. These include a reduction in the inflammation seen, improved tissue repair, and less immune response.

There have been multiple studies performed which show evidence of improvement following Crohn’s disease stem cell therapy. For instance, a study had Crohn’s strictures (areas of narrowing in the intestines) injected with mesenchymal stem cells. Just twelve weeks later, half of the patients had shown a degree of improvement.

Another study combined animal and human studies. It was seen that several indices used to assess the disease severity improved. In addition, a meta-analysis of 29 previous studies showed more improvement in Crohn’s disease-related fistulas when compared to placebos.

The procedure

Depending on the type of stem cells used in the therapy — patient’s own or donated — the procedure may last from several weeks to only a couple of hours. 

Firstly, mesenchymal stem cells are extracted from bone marrow and/or fat tissue (procedure similar to liposuction, but simpler). Only a small amount is needed, which is later separated, processed and cultivated to the therapeutic dose at the Swiss Medica laboratory.

Stem Cell Therapy for Crohn’s Disease
The harvested mesenchymal stem cells are cultured in the laboratory to obtain the number of cells required for therapy.

Finally, activated stem cells are returned back to the patient’s body while resting, through a standard IV drip, which is a safe and painless process.

The other option is to use donated mesenchymal stem cells. In this case, cells can also be taken from bone marrow or fat tissue, as well as from the umbilical cord or the placenta. This makes the treatment process faster, since the cell-based product is already prepared for therapeutic use.

During the treatment with stem cells for Crohn’s disease, a body receives tens or hundreds of millions of stem cells. These restore a person’s daily losses and exceed it by a thousand times.

Stem cells are unique and have the power to find the place of damage inside the body and fix it. Because they are already a part of the repair system naturally, this process is very standard for the human organism. When activated stem cells reach the body, they start searching for a place of damage and work on it. A patient notices improvement in symptoms, which are slowly building up, during the next 2-4 months.

How safe is stem cell therapy for Crohn’s disease?

Stem cell Crohn’s disease treatment is a relatively safe option. Studies done to assess the therapeutic benefit consider safety as well. The risk of significant adverse effects occurring was found to be very low, at less than 2%.

A review in 2021 bolstered this by showing that modern studies reiterate the favorable safety of stem cell transplant for this health condition.

Are there potential side effects?

Like any medical procedure, stem cell therapy for Crohn’s disease has potential side effects which can occur. For instance, a clinical trial using umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells noted short-term fever in four out of eighty-two patients after stem cell infusion. However, fever was mild and there were no severe side effects recorded.

In most patients, unwanted reactions are not noticed. In rare cases, adverse effects are mild and typically limited to headache and fever. These resolve on their own, however. 

When can a patient expect to see improvement?

For patients with improvements following stem cells for Crohn’s disease treatment, the results are not immediate. It takes time for administered cells to be able to enact their effect in the tissue of the digestive tract. Months or even weeks may pass during which improvements appear, although the first results may be noticeable already in the first days of therapy.

What are the results of stem cell treatment in Crohn’s disease?

Hearing the experience of real patients who have received Crohn’s disease stem cell treatment is the best way to learn about the results. Below is the case of a patient who received stem cell therapy for his health condition at the Swiss Medica clinic.

Armando, patient from United States of America, 24 years with Crohn’s disease:

Diagnosed with the disease in 1997, Armando tried corticosteroids for treatment of the condition, but with very little improvement in his symptoms. This pushed him to read on stem cell treatment for Crohn’s disease, where he came across Swiss Medica and decided to undergo the therapy. After receiving treatment with stem cells, the patient started to feel positive changes in his condition after only a few days. 

Within a matter of days I noticed that there was an improvement in my energy, my sleep was improved, I decreased in my pain that I had in joints, including my back. So I noticed that the treatment I received had really begun to have an impact. I understand that there’s some time now to wait until we’ll see even more gradual improvement.

With the level of care that you receive, it’s very holistic, very integrative. Very many levels where you see a lot of good changes.
It is important to keep in mind that not all patients will see the same results following treatment. Each case is different, and as a result, while some patients may see significant improvement, some may see very little.

What the treatment programme may include

Besides regenerative stem cell therapy, there are other additional techniques that may be used to offer the patient the highest level of care. These include the following: 

  • Ozone-laser injection therapy
  • Cryotherapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Medical tests, additional diagnostics
  • Doctors’ consultations (specialists in neurology, psychiatry, psychology, neurorehabilitation, nutrition, etc.)

Those who undergo stem cell treatment at Swiss Medica will receive care from a highly qualified and skilled team. Each patient is unique, and as a result, management plans are unique and specific to each individual.

Get a free online consultation

Contact us to learn about the expected result for your case, the personal treatment program, its costs and duration.

Stem Cell Therapy for Crohn’s Disease
Dr. Aleksandra Fetyukhina, MD

Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor

List of References

  1. Zhang, J., Lv, S., Liu, X., Song, B., & Shi, L. (2018). Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cell Treatment for Crohn’s Disease: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Gut and liver, 12(1), 73–78.

  2. Ko, J. Z., Johnson, S., & Dave, M. (2021). Efficacy and Safety of Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cell Therapy for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: An Up-to-Date Systematic Review. Biomolecules, 11(1), 82.

  3. Ye, L., Wu, X., Yu, Na., Pan, J. (2016). Clinical efficacy and safety of stem cells in refractory Crohn’s disease: A systematic review. Journal of Cellular Immunotherapy, 2(1).

  4. Cao, Y., Su, Q., Zhang, B., Shen, F., & Li, S. (2021). Efficacy of stem cells therapy for Crohn’s fistula: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Stem cell research & therapy, 12(1), 32.

  5. Wang, R., Yao, Q., Chen, W., Gao, F., Li, P., Wu, J., Yu, J., & Cao, H. (2021). Stem cell therapy for Crohn’s disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of preclinical and clinical studies. Stem cell research & therapy, 12(1), 463.

  6. Vieujean, S., Loly, J. P., Boutaffala, L., Meunier, P., Reenaers, C., Briquet, A., Lechanteur, C., Baudoux, E., Beguin, Y., & Louis, E. (2021). Mesenchymal Stem Cell Injection in Crohn’s Disease Strictures: a phase I-II clinical study. Journal of Crohn’s & colitis, jjab154. Advance online publication.

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Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor

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