Have you ever heard of stem cell therapy? If yes, then you should know how the procedure works in the medical field. You may also want to learn more about it. But if you are new to the therapy, then feel lucky because this piece is just for you.
Well, Stem cell therapy has become very popular in recent times despite its availability for decades now. This blog will explore the meaning and uses of stem cell therapy in the modern world.
What is Stem Cell?
The human system contains millions of cells serving particular purposes in the body. However, stem cells typically have no definite purpose. They are undifferentiated cells able to develop into specialized cells in the body. These cells can later serve as a replacement for damaged cells and tissues.
Types of stem cells
There are three main types of stem cells; embryonic stem cell, adult stem cell, and induced pluripotent stem cells.
- Embryonic stem cell
An embryonic stem cell is derived from human embryos. The embryo must be at most five days old. The cells are collected through a process known as in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Instead of fertilizing the embryo in the female womb, it is done in the laboratory. The embryonic stem cells also are known as pluripotent stem cells can regenerate into almost all type of cells in the human body. This means you can have any of your damaged cells or tissues replaced easily with embryonic stem cell.
- Adult stem cells
Am I allowed to say the name of this cell is a little deceptive? An adult stem cell is collected from developed organs and tissues of children. The adult stem cell, unlike the embryonic stem cell, cannot differentiate into many forms of cells. This means it can’t replace many cells in the body. It can only replace damaged cells and tissues in the same part of the body they are found. Example of an adult stem cell is hematopoietic stem cells located in the bone marrow. For some decades now, doctors have been using hematopoietic stem cells in bone marrow transplants. It can correct some blood and bone marrow diseases like Leukemia.
Induced Pluripotent stem cells
Through research, scientists have found ways of turning adult stem cells into pluripotent stem cells. The new cells called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can differentiate into other types of specialized cells.
What is stem cell therapy?
Stem cell therapy involves the use of stem cells in treating or preventing diseases. Of all the types of stem cell therapies, a bone marrow transplant is the most popular. Currently, scientists are embarking on various kinds of research to many other sources for stem cells. They are also developing methods for neurodegenerative diseases and other diseases with stem cell therapy.
Uses of Stem cells therapy in the modern world
Scientists have for years been researching into the potentials of stem cells. They want to help us in treating as many diseases as possible. Since stem cells can replace lost cells and tissues, doctors are convinced of its usefulness in treating diseases. That aside, scientists are using stem cell research to understand the genesis of certain diseases. Understanding how diseases or medical condition appears is one of the first steps of treatment.
They have gone a step further by using human stem cells in testing a new drug. Currently, some new medications undergo safety test with the use of differentiated cells produced from human pluripotent cell lines.
- For treatment
According to the National Institute for Health stem cell therapy is effective in treating several medical conditions. Some cells are irreplaceable naturally. So when damaged, the only option becomes the use of stem cells. Scientists can generate new cells and tissues via stem cells. Doctors can then transplant the generated cells and tissues into the body to replace lost or damaged ones.
Uses of stem cells include correcting muscular degeneration, osteoarthritis, spinal cord injury, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, severe burns, heart disease, and stroke.
Tissue regeneration: for now, tissue regeneration is one of the most critical uses of stem cells. This process is evident in scientists’ use of stem cells beneath the skin to generate new skin tissues. With this developed tissue, people suffering from severe burns can have their skin grow back.
- Research purposes
The use of stem cells helps in studying the life of living things. It helps to understand how the body grows and what happens to the cells when diseased. Scientists are also developing effective methods of transplanting these stem cells into the body.
Stem cells also have the potential of generating new organs to replace damaged ones. In this case, if your loved one needs an organ replacement doctors may harvest a stem cell from their body to generate a new one for them.
Until then, you currently have to rely on a donor to get a healthy organ for replacement. There are cases that the body rejects the donated organ because the system sees it as a foreign agent. However, induced pluripotent stem cells generated by using the patient’s body stands a minimal risk of rejection.
Is Stem cell therapy safe?
There have been some success stories in the use of stem cell therapy. Recently BBC reported of a UK patient being treated of HIV after a successful stem cell treatment. Several other success stories, especially for bone marrow transplants.
That notwithstanding, the US Food and Drugs Administration, has some strong warnings about the use of this treatment. Though they concede that the therapy has the potential to treat some medical condition, the FDA is asking patients to be vigilant. According to the administration, stem cell treatment can be potentially harmful. Therefore, be very careful about which clinic you visit for this kind of treatment.
Stem cells have proven effective in some kinds of diseases and disorders. However, there is no 100% guaranteed effectiveness. Side effects of the treatment can be dangerous and even fatal. You should, therefore, take precautions when considering this kind of treatment.