Endothelial colony-forming cells show promise against inflammatory bowel disease

Published on September 20, 2012 at 4:17 AM · 1 Comment

New research shows that a special population of stem cells found in cord blood has the innate ability to migrate to the intestine and contribute to the cell population there, suggesting the cells' potential to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

"These cells are involved in the formation of blood vessels and may prove to be a tool for improving the vessel abnormalities found in IBD," said lead author Graca Almeida-Porada, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The research is published in the current print issue of the journal Hepatology.

Up to 1 million Americans have IBD, which is characterized by frequent diarrhea and abdominal pain. IBD actually refers to two conditions - ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease - in which the intestines become red and swollen and develop ulcers. With IBD, blood vessels in the intestine leak and contribute to inflammation.

While there is currently no cure for IBD, there are drug therapies aimed at reducing inflammation and preventing the immune response. However, these therapies aren't always effective. The long-term aim of the research is to develop an injectable cell therapy to induce tissue recovery.

The work, performed while Almeida-Porada was at the University of Nevada, also involved colleagues from Indiana University School of Medicine. The researchers studied a special population of cells, known as endothelial colony-forming cells, found in cord blood, bone marrow and circulating blood. The finding in 1997 that the cells can contribute to blood vessel formation in adults, not just embryos, initiated the notion of using them for therapy. Studies in humans have validated the ability of these cells to improve reduced blood flow to the limbs and to treat heart diseases.

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Comments
  1. Andrew Allen Andrew Allen United States says:

    I hope it ends up being the miracle cure that so many of those suffering have been hoping for (including myself).

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