Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Adult Stem Cells May Treat Many Diseases

Study Suggests Benefits for Patients With Autoimmune Diseases and Heart Disease
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 26, 2008 -- Adult stem cells harvested from either blood or bone marrow hold promise for the treatment of a wide range of autoimmune diseases and heart disease, a research review shows.

Since the late 1990s, adult stem cell therapy has been used experimentally to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and several other diseases of the immune system, as well as heart disease.

Northwestern University researcher Richard Burt, MD, and colleagues summarize results from roughly 60 of these studies involving about 2,400 patients in a review published in tomorrow's edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Burt pioneered the research on adult stem cells for the treatment of autoimmune disease. He tells WebMD that the potential uses for stem cell therapy are only now beginning to be understood.

"Traditional medicine is about three approaches -- drugs, surgery, and radiotherapy," he says. "Stem cell therapy represents a fourth arm of treatment that in some cases will be combined with other treatments and in other cases will stand alone. We are seeing the tip of the iceberg right now."

Stem Cell Patients Tell Their Stories

Barry Goudy, 48, and Tom Van Lieshout, 76, are both believers. Both are Burt's patients.

Goudy had battled multiple sclerosis for eight years before having a transplant of stem cells taken from his own blood five years ago this summer.

"I played hockey and racquetball and had always been very athletic, but I just couldn't do it anymore," he says. "I got to the point where I couldn't walk up the stairs without dragging my leg."

Goudy spent a month in the hospital, including five days of chemotherapy to knock out his immune system. But he tells WebMD he has been free of MS symptoms ever since.

He says he's now playing hockey and racquetball again, and is "living my life."

"I've had five good years that I wouldn't have had," the Detroit automobile sales representative says.

Tom Van Lieshout was facing the amputation of his right leg due to circulation complications from diabetes when he had a stem cell transplant in January 2005.

He says he was in such excruciating pain before having the treatment that he could only walk 50 to 100 yards at a time.

"When I went into the hospital I walked from the parking ramp to the entrance, which was a couple hundred yards, and I had to stop three times," he tells WebMD. "Just a few days after [the transplant] I was able to walk three blocks to the drugstore and back."

Today on WebMD

rubbing hands
Avoid these 6 common mistakes.
mature couple exercising
Decrease pain, increase energy.
mature woman threading needle
How much do you know?
Swelling, fatigue, pain, and more.
Lucille Ball
Hand bones X-ray
prescription pills
Woman massaging her neck
woman roasting vegetables in oven
Woman rubbing shoulder
doctor and patient hand examination