Autoimmune diseases are a group of disorders in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake. This mistaken attack causes inflammation, pain, and damage to the affected organs. According to Healthline.com, more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases exist. Some more common ones include type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and celiac disease.
There is currently no cure for autoimmune diseases, but treatments available can help manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients. In recent years, there have been several advances in the treatment of autoimmune diseases that show promise for patients. Here are some of the most promising developments.
Stem cell transplantation
Stem cell transplantation is a treatment in which a patient’s diseased cells are replaced with healthy stem cells from a donor. This treatment is typically used for people with severe autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and lupus erythematosus who have not responded to other treatments.
It lets the patient’s body repair itself, improving quality of life and reducing symptoms. While there are risks associated with stem cell transplants, they can have long-lasting effects on those suffering from autoimmune diseases. Moreover, the success rate for stem cell therapy is growing as technology advances.
A few treatments can be done before undergoing stem cell transplantation. These treatments are designed to help prepare your body for the transplant and improve the chances of a successful outcome.
Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments before you undergo stem cell transplantation:
- Chemotherapy: This treatment uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It can also suppress the immune system and prepare it for a stem cell transplant.
- Radiation therapy: This treatment uses radiation to kill cancer cells and may also be used to suppress the immune system.
- Immunosuppressive therapy: This therapy uses drugs to suppress the immune system, which can help prepare it for a stem cell transplant.
Biologics are newer medication that targets specific parts of the immune system to help control inflammation. They are typically used to treat conditions like Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Biologics can be administered intravenously or via injection.
Biologics are medications that help control inflammation by targeting specific parts of the immune system. They work by suppressing the immune system and helping to reduce inflammation in the affected organs or tissues.
While biologics have helped many people with autoimmune diseases, much research is still needed to better understand their long-term effects. Talk to your doctor about potential side effects before taking a biologic for treatment.
There are a few treatments that you can try before doing biologics. Some of these include:
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help to improve joint function and mobility in people with rheumatoid arthritis. It can also help to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove damaged or inflamed tissue in people with autoimmune diseases.
- Diet and lifestyle changes: Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Additionally, stress management techniques such as yoga or meditation can help to minimize flare-ups associated with autoimmune diseases.
Small molecule drugs
Small molecule drugs are a type of medication that targets specific proteins involved in the inflammatory process. They can be taken orally or injected and are typically used to treat conditions like psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, and lupus. This allows the patient to take a personalized approach to manage their condition.
Small molecule drugs are generally well-tolerated and have fewer side effects than other treatments, making them an attractive option for many patients. However, more research is needed to understand their long-term impact on autoimmune diseases.
Before starting, you must talk to your doctor about these drugs’ possible benefits and risks. Your doctor can determine the best treatment option for you based on your condition.
Immunosuppressants weaken the immune system so that it can’t mount an attack on healthy cells. These drugs can have serious side effects, so they are usually only prescribed when other treatments have failed. Immunosuppressants can be used to treat a variety of autoimmune diseases, including lupus, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
If you are prescribed an immunosuppressant, it is crucial to take it as directed by your doctor. Immunosuppressants can have serious side effects, so it is essential to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.
Some common side effects of immunosuppressants include:
- Stomach pain
- Weight gain
If you experience any of these side effects, talk to your doctor. They may be able to adjust your dosage or prescribe a different medication.
Plasma exchange is a treatment in which the patient’s blood is removed and replaced with plasma from a healthy donor. This treatment is typically used for people with severe autoimmune diseases like myasthenia gravis or Guillain-Barre syndrome. It can also help reduce inflammation in people with lupus or multiple sclerosis.
Plasma exchange is a safe and effective treatment for many autoimmune diseases but can have side effects. Common side effects include:
- Severe bleeding
- Blurry vision
These are just a few of the recent advances in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. While there is still no cure for these conditions, these new treatments offer hope for patients who suffer from them. If you or someone you know has an autoimmune disease, talk to your doctor about these new treatment options to see if they might be right for you.