The UPMC Immune Transplant and Therapy Center – Autoimmunity
Our immune system is made up of a complex network of cells that protect us from diseases and infections by recognizing and attacking anything unfamiliar in our bodies. Autoimmune diseases occur when a person’s immune system cannot function properly and attacks healthy cells by mistake. This also makes it unable to defend against many other harmful conditions.
Autoimmune diseases can affect any part of the body making identifying symptoms and treatment difficult. Many of these chronic diseases severely limit a patient’s healthy lifespan and for many, there is no cure.
Experts at the UPMC Immune Transplant and Therapy Center are exploring how the body’s own cells can be mobilized to fight various autoimmune disease, including:
- Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) – An autoimmune disease of the connective tissue that causes skin thickening and lung disease
- Crohn’s Disease – A chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation, ulcers, and bleeding in the digestive tract
Autologous Stem Cell Transplant for Autoimmune Diseases
At UPMC, our experts are conducting clinical trials to explore the use of autologous stem cell transplant along with CD34 selected-peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) to treat patients with certain autoimmune diseases.
Through stem cell mobilization and conditioning, stems cells from a patient’s bone marrow are transferred to the blood stream and then collected for transplantation. Before the stem cells are transplanted, they are sent through a process called CD34 to remove potentially autoreactive lymphocytes.
During an autologous stem cell transplant, the unhealthy stem cells in the blood and bone marrow are replaced by the patient’s own CD34 selected stem cells. Following this process, the normal and healthy immune system will reconstruct without the regeneration of the autoimmune disease.
At the UPMC Immune Transplant and Therapy Center, we are currently exploring autologous stem cell transplant for systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) and Crohn’s disease.