Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy for Lyme Disease

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Could embryonic stem cells help Lyme disease patients?

Patients undergoing stem cell treatment for Lyme disease may be offered embryonic stem cell therapy. These stem cells will, most often, be sourced from aborted and donated foetuses and embryos but it is important to check the provenance of the tissue as some overseas clinics have been found guilty of illegal activities surrounding embryonic stem cell procurement. Where the stem cells are not easily traceable there is a concern over their origin in terms of criminal activity, coercion, and safety from disease and infection. There is also a safety concern as the pervading view of embryonic stem cells as immunologically inert has been brought into question by some research findings. In some cases embryonic stem cells may proliferate in an undesirable fashion, leading to tumor growth and unwanted cell types developing in sensitive tissues. This is particularly true where embryonic stem cells are injected in brain tissue or the spinal canal and there are some reports of patients being found at autopsy to have bone, hair, and skin present in the brain at the stem cell transplant site.

Autoimmune Disease, Stem Cells, and Lyme Patients

Although there is some evidence that stem cells migrate to the site of damage in the body upon transplantation it is not necessarily the case that stem cell therapy would stimulate the immune system in the desired fashion. Indeed, immune system stimulation could actually increase inflammation and tissue damage. Where a patient with unrecognized chronic Lyme disease is also suspected of having an autoimmune condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or even fibromyalgia the use of autologous stem cell therapy may be contraindicated. This is because the problem is thought to lie in the patients’ own cells, making a transplant of such cells unlikely to be of benefit and perhaps even be dangerous in propelling the disease progression through immune system stimulation or increased inflammation and stress.

Rebuilding the Damaged Immune System

Embryonic stem cell therapy or cord blood stem cell treatment may be beneficial for autoimmune conditions however, with some research suggesting that a combination of chemotherapy to destroy the patients’ faulty immune system cells, followed by stem cell therapy to rebuild their immune system could reeducate their bodies and combat these seemingly incurable illnesses. As Lyme disease is due to bacterial infection and not confirmed as an autoimmune disease, even when symptoms become chronic, it is not clear that there would be a similar benefit from stem cell treatment for Lyme disease.