About the Power of Stem Cells
Stem cells can do a lot of things, but the main uses of it are for research purposes and also for regenerative medicines and treatment procedures.
That being said, there are still a lot of questions surrounding the power of stem cells and in this article, I will go over some of the frequently asked ones and I will answer them as best as I can.
How Can They Treat Diseases?
One of the things that stem cells can do is to treat various medical conditions. Although we still haven’t tapped its full potential, there are some applications of it that help treat a variety of different diseases including:
- It can be used to replace neurons that are damaged or lost due to a spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, and related diseases.
- It can be used to trigger the production of Insulin in people who suffer from Type-1 (Juvenile) Diabetes
- It can also help repair the tissue that surrounds the heart after a Myocardial Infarction
- It pretty much repairs any damaged tissue found in the body.
How is the Research Going?
Many scientists are still researching the full use of stem cells, particularly pluripotent stem cells (embryonic) and induced Pluripotent stem cells (reprogrammed adult stem cells).
That being said, most studies, albeit successful, were still done with the use of mice. However, some promising studies are moving towards clinical trials in the foreseeable future.
Some studies include using stem cells to cure blindness, using stem cells to treat people with brain damage, and so on.
What is the Most Frequently Used Stem Cell Therapy?
To date, we have a total of ten approved stem cell therapies, but the most commonly used one is actually the bone marrow transplant.
This is primarily done on patients who suffer from blood-related cancers, most especially Leukemia. After receiving Chemotherapy, they’re then transplanted some bone marrow stem cells that were either derived from them (Autologous) or harvested from a suitable donor (Allogeneic).
Where Are We Now Regarding the Use of Embryonic Stem Cells in Stem Cell Therapy?
The ten approved studies that I’ve alluded to earlier all used adult stem cells, or cells that were harvested from an already grown-up individual. The other type, the embryonic stem cells, are still not used for medical treatments.
Studies regarding its use in humans are still ongoing and the first clinical trial will probably happen any time during the next decade.
It takes quite a long time because for a therapy to be approved, it has to undergo multiple cycles to ensure that every time it is done, it is proven safe and effective.
Why Does It Take a Long Time to Use Embryonic Stem Cells for Treatments and Therapies?
The main reason why embryonic stem cell therapies haven’t been approved yet is due to the hurdle that scientists have to go through to induce the differentiation process before transplanting the said stem cells.
Differentiation is just a process whereby the embryonic stem cell (in its immature state) will be turned into a specific cell in the body (the mature state) long before it is introduced in the body.
To induce that, scientists must copy the signals being given to embryonic stem cells from their source to mimic the differentiation process. Giving it the wrong signals and at the wrong doses can turn them into other unintended cell types.
However, if the scientists figure this one out, creating a suitable treatment plan using embryonic stem cells will be so much easier.