Mazen Jamal, who works as a gastroenterologist at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System, has partnered with a therapeutic company to develop a stem cell-based treatment for patients with moderate to severe Crohn's disease.
Medication would use cells derived from human bone marrow and would alleviate symptoms caused by the condition, such as stomach ulcers and intestinal inflammation."Based on trial results, this looks to be one of the most promising treatments for these types of patients," said Jamal, who also teaches in the field at the University of California, Irvine.
"The majority of patients have (gone) into remission and have improved significantly."
Enrollment for the third phase of the clinical trial is taking place and will put patients on an intravenous drug therapy known as Prochymal.The treatment uses what are called mesenchymal stem cells that move to damaged areas of the body and catalyze tissue repair.
"It's an infusion of stem cells taken from donors," Jamal
explained."…If a patient develops ulcers or inflammation, it leads to the secretion of anti-inflammatory chemicals that fight these and lead to healing."
If all goes as planned, Jamal
said, Prochymal could be on the market in an estimated two-and-a-half to three years, after receiving approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
.But before that can happen, Jamal will work as a principal investigator, encouraging interested patients to participate in the trial.
"When it started, the FDA
put it on the fast track, because they believe it's a needed medication and that it showed substantial efficacy from the trial," Jamal
If the medication receives approval, it would be administered in hospitals and clinics, not by patients. Jamal
has worked for the VA for seven years and said he
was contacted by Osiris Therapeutics
to help with the study.Since 1992, the company has sought to develop and market treatments for inflammatory, orthopedic and cardiovascular issues using adult bone marrow (rather than that of fetuses, embryos or animals).
"I'm recruiting patients, examining them and making sure they are a good fit for the study," Jamal