Severe systemic sclerosis is a disease that causes generalised skin sclerosis and abnormalities in the internal organs. It has a mortality rate of between 30% and 50% in the first five years of the disease. It can be treated with immunosuppressant drugs, but the results are uncertain. Now, the first results of a trial conducted in 29 European centres using autologous adult stem cells in 156 patients with this severe disease now been presented (JAMA 311; 2490-8, 2014). These have been encouragingly positive, as they improve clinical symptoms and lengthen survival. From an ethical point of view, this treatment does not present any difficulties, as it uses adult stem cells.
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