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Autoimmune diseases

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What is an autoimmune disease?

All autoimmune diseases are caused by an overactive immune system. Your immune system targets your own cells instead of bacteria or viruses.

There are over 80 known autoimmune diseases, including type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Not all autoimmune diseases can be treated with a stem cell transplant, but they can help people with conditions such as systemic sclerosis and multiple sclerosis (MS).

You can find out more about autoimmune diseases on The Autoimmune Association website.

Autoimmune diseases and stem cell transplants

A stem cell transplant would only be offered as an alternative treatment if other options have been unsuccessful or if your symptoms are becoming unmanageable.

It will likely be an autologous transplant – when doctors use your own stem cells. Some conditions can be treated with an allogeneic transplant – where new stem cells are donated from an unrelated donor, but this is rare.

In 2020, 25 patients had a stem cell transplant for autoimmune diseases in the UK.

Information published: 16/02/22
Next review due: 16/02/23

Related links

Preparing for a stem cell transplant

Having a stem cell transplant

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