Dermatomyositis is a very rare inflammatory muscle and skin disease that affects both males and females, as well as adults and children. Dermatomyositis causes the immune system to attack blood vessels and skin connective tissues, leading to abnormal muscle tissue destruction.
Even though there is no cure-it-all treatment method for the condition presently, its symptoms can be managed. From this article, you will learn about new treatments for dermatomyositis, which include stem cells to treat dermatomyositis.
Get a free online consultation to find out how stem cell therapy may help in dermatomyositis, and what are the expected results.
Causes of dermatomyositis
No one knows for sure what causes the condition, although the most widely held belief is that autoimmune diseases are at play. Disease-fighting cells known as antibodies attack healthy cells in the body and cause autoimmune disease.
Those with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop the condition. Also, people with a strong family history of dermatomyositis, on the other hand, are more likely to get the disease. Compared to men, women have twice the chances of coming down with dermatomyositis. Underlying cancer in the elderly, infectious or toxic agents, and various medications can all cause dermatomyositis.
Symptoms of dermatomyositis
Blueish-purple spots may appear on the skin around the nails, elbows, chest, or face. It is also possible that muscle weakness will develop and worsen as the condition progresses. Starting in your neck, muscle weakness will spread to your arms and hips, and it can affect both sides of your body. But that’s not all. Below are additional manifestations of dermatomyositis:
- Changes in voice and difficulty swallowing
- Tenderness and soreness in muscles
- Unintentional weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
- Scaly, rough, and dry skin, all of which can contribute to hair loss,
- Red, swollen fingernail tips
- Calcium deposits under the skin causing hard lumps (calcinosis)
Muscle weakness is absent in amyopathic dermatomyositis, an extremely uncommon condition.
How is dermatomyositis diagnosed?
Your doctor will inquire about your health history and current symptoms in order to determine if you have dermatomyositis and rule out any other possible medical conditions. In addition, if necessary, a physical examination will take place.
However, to ensure thorough dermatomyositis diagnosis and treatment, your doctor will order these tests and measures to be carried out as a precaution:
- Blood screenings — These are performed to search for indicators of muscular inflammation. Additionally, they look for aberrant proteins produced by autoimmune diseases. Antinuclear antibodies and the muscle enzyme creatine kinase are the most prevalent blood parameters.
- Electromyogram (EMG) — This may be performed to identify unusual electrical activity in affected muscles.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and chest X-ray — Large magnets and a computer are used during an MRI examination to detect inflammation in the body. A chest x-ray is an additional imaging test performed to verify if your symptoms are due to dermatomyositis or another condition.
- Muscle or skin biopsies — Microscopic tissue samples are examined with a microscope.
With these test results, the doctor will establish a definitive diagnosis and commence dermatomyositis treatment.
What are the treatments for the disease?
Your symptoms, age, and overall health all play a role in your treatment plan. Although there is no outright cure for this disease, the symptoms can be managed. In certain cases, more than one type of therapy is required. Below are some up-to-date dermatomyositis treatment options:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines — These are corticosteroids, commonly known as steroid medications. They reduce inflammation in the body. They may be administered orally or intravenously. In most instances, corticosteroid drugs, such as prednisone, are the therapy of choice. Corticosteroids are, until now, the best treatment for dermatomyositis because they suppress the immune system’s reaction, hence reducing the number of antibodies that cause inflammation.
- Immunosuppressant medications — prevent the immune system from destroying healthy cells and tissues. They can slow down any muscular harm inflicted by your body’s defense mechanisms.
- Other medications — Painkillers will relieve the pain. Anti-malarial drugs are indicated for the treatment of persistent rash.
- Immunoglobulin — These medications may be prescribed if previous therapies have failed. They are products made from donated blood that may help your body’s defenses. IVIg is a plasma injection of additional immunoglobulin, a naturally occurring component of your blood. It is possible to use immunosuppressants in conjunction with IVIg therapies or as a stand-alone therapy.
- Surgery — Calcium deposits (calcinosis) under the skin can be removed surgically if they become uncomfortable.
- Skin therapy — If you want to avoid skin rashes, you should limit your sun exposure and use sunscreen. Antihistamine medications or topical steroid creams can also soothe itchy skin rashes.
- Physical therapy — Dermatomyositis physical therapy can assist in repairing muscle damage. The stronger your muscles, the more equipped they are to withstand any dermatomyositis-related injury.
- Speech therapy — The muscles in your throat that aid in swallowing can be strengthened with speech therapy if you suffer from weakness therein.
Discuss the potential risks, benefits, and side effects of any treatment plan with your doctor or other health care professional before getting started.
Stem cell therapy and dermatomyositis
Many diseases can be significantly improved with stem cell therapy. Stem cells are more suited to treating conditions where more established methods have failed. In particular, stem cell treatment to manage dermatomyositis has been demonstrated to be highly effective in a number of studies. A report in the Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology in 2010 demonstrated substantial improvements in the individuals who underwent similar stem cell transplantation.
Patients who have developed drug resistance may benefit most from allogeneic (donated) mesenchymal stem cell transplantation, according to research published in 2011 in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases journal.
Stem cells have immunomodulatory properties and immunosuppressive effects. It is also known that stem cells have the ability to replace damaged cells and stimulate the regenerative process in damaged tissues, including those damaged in autoimmune diseases. Hence, stem cell therapy can be used to treat dermatomyositis. As a result, the expected outcome of this therapy is a reduction in disease progression, or even full cessation of the condition.
What the treatment program entails
While each patient’s transplant procedure is unique and varies from case to case, the following steps are generally involved:
- Pre-transplant medical testing of the patient and assessment of the case.
- Determining the right cell-based product and route of administration for the therapy.
- Harvesting blood/bone marrow/fat tissue stem cells if autologous cells will be used.
- Transplantation of harvested or donated stem cells into the patient’s body (via IV drip or local injections).
- Intensive monitoring of the patient for several days at the Clinic and then months after the discharge to evaluate and control the result.
- Consistent follow-up with the referring physician and other healthcare professionals.
Cost of stem cell therapy
Depending on the facility where the stem cells are procured, the total number of stem cells infused, and the regulatory body’s requirements, stem cell therapy costs might vary considerably from one region to another. On average, stem cell treatment might cost anything from $4000 to $40,000.
Get a free online consultation to find out about the expected result for your personal case, what the treatment includes, what is its cost and duration.
Frequent examinations and reporting abnormalities to your doctor early can help lower the risk of complications of dermatomyositis, and also choose the relevant therapy. The goal of using stem cell therapy in dermatomyositis is to improve the patient’s quality of life, regardless of the patient’s condition or prognosis. Through stem cell transplant, the course of autoimmune disorders can be delayed and even reversed, if not entirely halted, from occurring. Thus, it may be beneficial for patients to use stem cells to treat dermatomyositis.
List of References
Okogbaa, J., & Batiste, L. (2019). Dermatomyositis: An Acute Flare and Current Treatments. Clinical medicine insights. Case reports, 12, 1179547619855370. https://doi.org/10.1177/1179547619855370
Choi E. W. (2009). Adult stem cell therapy for autoimmune disease. International journal of stem cells, 2(2), 122–128. https://doi.org/10.15283/ijsc.2009.2.2.122
Wang, D., Zhang, H., Cao, M., Tang, Y., Liang, J., Feng, X., Wang, H., Hua, B., Liu, B., & Sun, L. (2011). Efficacy of allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell transplantation in patients with drug-resistant polymyositis and dermatomyositis. Annals of the rheumatic diseases, 70(7), 1285–1288. https://doi.org/10.1136/ard.2010.141804
Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor