Stem cell Therapy / Stem Cells:
Stem cells are the basic building blocks of the body, which begin developing as soon fertilisation occurs. They are the first group of cells that comprises the embryo and thereafter divide, develop and change to form the complete human body. This change of form by the blank cells into various tissues is called differentiation and this is what makes stem cells so important. No other type of cells, have this capability.
The other important property of stem cells is their repairing capacity. Not only in the embryo but also in the adult body, every tissue and every organ has its own stem cell bank. Though normally stem cells are not active always, these are activated as soon as repair is needed.
Types of Stem cells
Though only the Adult Stem cells are the true stem cells which occur naturally, stem cells are classified as follows:-
1. Adult Stem cells: Most organs including brain and heart have stem cells, which can bring about regeneration of lost tissue but these are not abundant enough for clinical consequence. Some of the main sources of adult stem cells are the bone marrow, adipose (fat) tissue and skeletal myoblasts. Another very important source of stem cells is the Umbilical Cord blood, which is the residual blood left in the placenta and the cord after child birth.
2. Embryonic Stem cells: Embryonic stem cells are cells derived from the developing human embryo.
3. Induced pluripotent stem cells: Discovered by the Japanese scientist from skin cells by genetically manipulating the four transcription factor genes.
Application of Stem cells in treatment of diseases:
The unique characteristic of the stem cells to reform and repair the body tissue makes them the ideal tool for treatment of degeneration of tissues and organs and thereby cure various diseases.
The applications can be endless. Stem cells from blood to cure Anaemia and Leukaemia. Brain stem cells for dementia and Parkinson’s, corneal stem cells for retinal and corneal regeneration. Heart stem cells for coronary strokes and malformation, pancreatic stem cells for diabetes and bone stem cells for fractures and implants.
Stem cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy has potential and the capacity to successfully treat a myriad of universally prevalent diseases ranging from the common, serious and hitherto incurable. It has become one of the most exciting discoveries of medicine, encompassing all areas of current medical science.
Stem cell treatment introduces new cells into the damaged tissue in order to treat a disease or repair a injury. The ability of stem cells to self-renew means tissues that can replace diseased and damaged areas in the body can be regenerated without the risk of rejection and side effects.
The stem cells used for therapeutic purpose are mostly autologous adult stem cells derived from the bone marrow or the fat cells of the patient. Allogenic Mesenchymal stem cells derived from the umbilical cord are also used as they do not carry any antigen. Embryonic stem cells are not used as they can be rejected by the body and lead to host vs graft disease.
Diseases which can be treated by stem cell therapy with varying degree of success are Diabetes 1 & 2, Bone disorders like Osteoarthritis, non-healing fracture, sports injuries, peripheral vascular disorders, neuro muscular disorders like ALS, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Stroke, and Parkinson’s disease. Other diseases like liver cirrhosis, chronic kidney disease, lung disease, eye disorders, Cardiovascular disorders and Cancer are better managed with stem cell therapy.