Last year, pop princess Selena Gomez posted on Instagram a picture that instantly received more than 10 million “likes.” Surprisingly, it wasn’t a selfie of her gracing the red carpet, or with her on-again off-again beau, Justin Bieber. What caught the world’s attention was a photo of Selena, in a hospital bed, recovering from kidney transplant surgery. In the bed next to her, Francia Raisa, also in recovery after donating a kidney to her best friend. “There aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa,” Selena wrote. “She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. Lupus continues to be very misunderstood but progress is being made.”
The History of Lupus, the Disease with 1000 Faces
Selena, as well as celebrity chameleon Lady Gaga, Grammy winning singer Toni Braxton, TV host and entrepreneur Nick Cannon, and Olympic gold medalist Shannon Boxx, plus 1.5 million other Americans, have been diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). In fact, SLE – also known as the Disease with 1000 Faces – remains a topic of fascination and misunderstanding. Because no two cases are alike, the disease manifests itself in a variety of dramatic ways. Consider award-winning British singer/songwriter Seal who, at age 23, first started showing signs of discoid lupus erythematous, with the emergence of facial scarring. Seal says he uses his art and music as a means to channel the pain and suffering that accompanies this oft misunderstood disease.
With so many famous celebrities suffering from – and advocating awareness for – Lupus, one might think this disease is a new phenomenon. Nothing could be further than the truth!
Dr. Hippocrates Will See You Now
Articles describing what we now know as SLE can be traced back to the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, who established the Hippocratic Oath to which all doctors adhere to this day. Hippocrates described the severe red facial rash which we now recognize as a classic symptom of Lupus.
In fact, the word lupus is Latin for wolf, and legend has it that 13th century physician Rogerius used the term to describe the distinctive butterfly rash associated with Lupus that resembled the bite marks of a wolf attack. Another theory says that the facial marks on people’s faces were similar to the distinctive marks on wolves’ faces themselves.
19th Century Advances
Research on Lupus began in earnest in the 19th century, when leading Viennese and British physicians recognized that the symptoms of Lupus extended beyond the skin to affect the body’s internal organs. It was in 1851 that the Greek term lupus erythematosus, meaning “wolf” and “blush” were first used.
Lupus in Modern Times
By 1900, Canadian physician Sir William Osler wrote the first complete treatises on lupus erythematosus, identifying that the disease could be “systemic” – it could affect the entire body rather than just one part. He recorded how Lupus could seemingly disappear, then “flare up” months later.
A notable turning point in the study and treatment of SLE came in the 1940s, when doctors at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital coined the term “collagen disease,” which led ultimately to our modern classification of Lupus as an autoimmune disorder. With this discovery came more guided research in efforts to facilitate testing to more rapidly diagnose and treat the disease.
Can Stem Cell Therapy Help Treat Lupus?
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is a complex disease state that is really more of a collection of related autoimmune disorders that attack otherwise healthy tissues such as skin, joints, the kidneys, heart, and other body systems. While there are medical treatments to help combat the ravages of lupus, new research has shown that using these medical therapies in combination with stem cell therapy can yield significantly better results.
If you are interested in learning more about stem cells and how they can help treat conditions such as lupus, call National Stem Cell Centers today at 646-448-0427 (New York) or 516-403-1457 (Long Island).