What is Eczema?

Eczema is a skin condition. People who have this condition complain of itchy, dry, red skin in different areas of their body. Eczema is thought to be caused primarily by inflammation of the skin cells.
Inflammation of the joints is the symptom of rheumatoid arthritis and it is likely caused by an immune response that is improper. Eczema is likely caused by the body’s immune responses not doing what they should. That is why the two conditions may be addressed, and treated with one simple treatment.

Why umbilical cord blood?

The blood in an umbilical cord has the ability to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is the key contributing factor in eczema and rheumatoid arthritis. The blood in the umbilical cord also has the power to suppress immune system responses. If the immune system is suppressed it will not cause the itching associated with the dry skin, which would mean great relief for eczema sufferers.

What makes umbilical cord blood suppress the immune system?

A protein that exists in the umbilical cord blood is responsible for the suppression of the immune system, and the reduction of inflammation. This protein has been identified as NKG2D ligands.
This protein stops the immune system from creating cells to fight what it perceives as a foreign invasion. When the immune system thinks your body is under attack it sends “killer cells” to stop the attack. Your result may be inflammation, or itching, from the attack of those “killer cells”.

The study

The results of umbilical cord blood on eczema and rheumatoid arthritis were accidentally produced during a study on skin graft versus host disease. Skin graft versus host disease usually occurs in people who have had a stem cell transplant.
When you get a stem cell transplant you get what turns out to be a new immune system for your body. The new immune system may attack the host and cause severe reactions of the skin. Researchers were trying to find a solution to these skin reactions when they stumbled upon the possibility that the umbilical cord blood would reduce the symptoms of eczema and rheumatoid arthritis.

What this means for the future

If umbilical cord blood can be used to treat eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, then people who suffer these conditions may get relief without some of the added dangers associated with current treatments.
Popular treatments to reduce inflammation include administering steroids. Steroids can increase the risk of obesity, high blood sugars, and heart attacks. If the umbilical cord blood can be used to help reduce the inflammation, then the patient would not need the steroids and would not put themselves in such grave danger of dying from heart attacks or strokes.

More research is needed

Since the possibility of using umbilical cord blood to treat eczema and rheumatoid arthritis was stumbled upon accidentally more research will have to be performed before doctors can start to recommend the treatment to their patients. The future does look promising for people with these conditions.