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Cord blood ‘life-changing’ for eczema patients

eczema_203589715 smallStem cell scientists have accidentally found a treatment for eczema that could bring hope to millions

Even if you don’t suffer from Eczema yourself, you probably know someone who does. The familiar, inflamed, red and itchy skin – often on the face, arms and hands – causes discomfort to thousands of Kiwis.

In New Zealand, Eczema currently affects up to 2% of adults and up to 20% of children. It is the result of a genetically inherited condition that causes too much of a certain type of antibody to be made. Similar to disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, the body actually begins to attack itself, resulting in painful inflammation symptoms that are hard to manage.

All that may be about to change, though. Recent UK research into adverse reactions to stem cell transplants revealed that the proteins in cord blood, could actually treat a whole host of inflammation-related conditions.

The newly discovered proteins play an essential role in the pregnancy process, disabling “natural killer cells” so the mother’s immune system doesn’t attack her baby. The results, published in the European Journal of Immunology, show so many exciting applications, but top of the list is Eczema.

“Currently, conditions such as eczema are hard to manage, so this accidental discovery could potentially offer a major breakthrough,” says Aurore Saudemont PhD, senior research scientist at Anthony Nolan, a blood cancer charity in the UK. “This could be life-changing for patients, as their symptom such as inflammation, itching and redness can be a serious problem.”

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