A first glance may suggest that this is a controversial topic because the piece is entitled “Stem Cells Carry Hope for Lupus.” However, these are stem cells derived from the patient’s own bone marrow and are thus not fodder for the embryonic stem cell debate. This article reports on the use of a common cancer therapy, hemapoetic stem cell transplantation (HSTC) in the treatment of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who are not responding to standard treatment. While this preliminary study will be followed by a larger, randomized clinical trial, the current results reported are quite hopeful for those with this autoimmune disease. Weaknesses in the story included a lack of information about the number of people who do not respond to standard therapy, a lack of information on side effects and costs of the treatment, and the failure to include input from another, independent source.
The costs for HSCT was not mentioned.
No estimate for the percentage of patients who
did not respond to standard treatment and who would be expected to die within the time frame of the study. (However – and
this is no excuse for the journalist – this information was not in the original research reported on either.)
The side effects of the
treatment were not mentioned
The article explained that the study it reported on was small and that the results were
preliminary and did not contain a control group for comparison.
Presented an estimate for the number
of people affected by lupus (1.5 million in the U.S.) as well as an estimate (5-10%) for the proportion of patients who did
not respond to standard treatment.
Only a quote from the first author of the study was included. No
independent second source.
Article mentioned that
lupus patients are usually treated with immunosuppressive drugs and that for 5-10% of patients, these drugs are ineffective.
While the original article was clear in presenting that HSCT was used as a treatment for this population for whom the
standard approach was no longer effective, this was not explicit in the article.
The results presented are acknowledged to be preliminary, with the next step being a second, larger trial.
This suggests that use of HSCT for treatment of lupus is not likely to be widely available for some time.
This article reported on
using nonmyeloablatic hemapoetic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) to treat patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
who not responding to the standard therapy. This medical therapy is currently in use as a means of treating several kinds of