Stem cell transplantation is the replacement of damaged
bone marrow cells with healthy cells, or stem cells. It is generally done after
powerful drugs have been used to wipe out the damaged immune system
Stem cells are immature cells that are produced
in the bone marrow. They can divide to produce more stem cells or mature into
red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
Lupus improves at times, and worsens at others. Symptoms of lupus may include:
Severe joint pain and muscle aches
Skin rash on the face or body
Extreme sun sensitivity
Mental confusion and seizures
Chest pain on taking a deep breath
Nose, mouth, or throat sores
Enlarged lymph nodes
Poor circulation in fingers and toes
Bald patches and hair loss
Stem cell transplantation has serious
risks. After a person's stem cells have been collected from the bloodstream,
they are returned to the bloodstream along with a stem cell growth factor. If
successful, the stem cells help the bone marrow return to a healthy state.
But during the two weeks that the
immune system requires to become strong again, the
body is extremely vulnerable to life-threatening infection.
Small studies of stem cell transplantation for people with severe lupus have shown that it may help some people but it also has serious side effects.1 This procedure is considered a high-risk, expensive,
and experimental treatment for lupus.