Stem Cells and Lupus Research

The LFA believes expanding stem cell research will accelerate the pace of discovery on the potential therapeutic benefits of stem cells and help basic and clinical researchers learn how stem cells can be used to develop life-saving treatments.

About Stem Cells

Stem cells possess the potential to develop into many different types of cells in the body. They serve as a repair system for the body. There are two main types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells are taken from human embryos.  They are found exclusively in early-stage embryos, from which all the body’s 200-plus types of tissue ultimately grow. They are the body’s master cells.

Adult stem cells are found in mature tissues that have already developed and are more specialized than embryonic stem cells. The body uses these cells to replace other cells that die off throughout the normal course of life.  The most common source of tissue-specific stem cells is the bone marrow, located in the center of some bones.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells 

Mesenchymal stem cells are derived from bone marrow or umbilical cords and are anti-inflammatory.  In studies in lupus mice these cells clearly lead to improvement in disease.  Uncontrolled studies primarily done in Asia suggest that mesenchymal stem cells may also be effective in humans with lupus.

The LFA thus far has awarded 11 grants to advance basic and clinical adult stem cell research as a treatment for lupus. Learn more about the investigators we have funded for stem cell research.