A new treatment option in clinical trials may provide hope for certain people living with Crohn’s disease.
A year ago, Michael Miceli felt completely depleted from his Crohn’s disease. The 38-year-old dad of two young boys was diagnosed in 1997, when he was a sophomore in high school. He spent the next two decades trying an array of medications and procedures to find relief from his symptoms. None of them worked.
“My life was mostly just getting by. I knew nothing else,” he tells Everyday Health. “It was going to the bathroom 20, 30 times a day, excruciating pain all day. When I would eat, if I did hold it down, nutrients would never be absorbed so it would just go right through me. I really didn’t have much quality of life.”
Then Miceli learned he qualified for a clinical trial at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City that uses stem cell therapy to treat Crohn’s disease.
Stem cells are cells that can develop into many different types of cells in the body. Stem cell therapy is a treatment that uses these cells to treat a condition by generating healthy cells to replace diseased ones.
Doctors have performed stem cell transplants to treat blood-related diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma, and neuroblastoma. Researchers are also testing the therapy for other disorders, including Crohn’s disease.
“How we believe it works is that the stem cells travel to the area of inflammation and release proteins to so-called messengers that then recruit your body’s own cells to restore balance in the immune system,” says Amy Lightner, MD, a colorectal surgeon at Cleveland Clinic.
After undergoing the procedure, Miceli noticed a difference almost immediately. His symptoms subsided, and he was able to go back to the things he loved doing, like playing with his 9- and 11-year-old sons.
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