A New POC Study Shows Positive Results and Supports Further Investigation into Stem Cell Research for Lupus
Stem cell therapy is one of the most promising frontiers in lupus research today. A proof of concept (POC) study from Spain captured results using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to treat lupus nephritis. MSCs are unique adult stem cells with immunosuppressive properties that also may play a key role in preventing autoimmunity. The MSCs in this study were transplanted into a small subset of people (3) with lupus nephritis and each responded favorably to this early treatment. Although very small, the study outcomes provide ongoing support for MSC research in lupus.
A POC study can be used to gather preliminary data about the drugs mechanism of action and help support further research in humans. The three patients in this study all received MSCs and were followed for 9 months after infusion. All three patients responded to therapy, with two patients considered to be complete responders (meaning they met all the endpoints in the protocol). This study was significant because it showed that MSC treatment for lupus nephritis was effective for patients from varying ethnic backgrounds. A larger phase 2 study to test the safety and efficacy for MSCs in lupus nephritis is currently enrolling in Spain.
The Lupus Foundation of America has a long history of funding (adult) stem cell research. The Foundation was one of the first private funders of research into MSCs as a potential treatment for people with lupus. Currently, in partnership with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Foundation has co-funded a major study of MSCs as a new treatment for moderate to severe lupus. This innovative study is led by Gary Gilkeson, M.D., and Diane Kamen, M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and marks a bold step forward in lupus research, which has only had one drug that was specifically developed for lupus and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The phase II trial is underway with seven academic centers participating in the research. Continue to follow LFA for updates on MSCs. Learn more about the Foundation's stem cell research.