Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is one of the most talked-about hot topics in recent years. The science of stem cell therapy covers many expertise and specialization. Though it belongs to the category of life sciences, stem cell therapy is really an interdisciplinary science.
Cell biologists are the experts in the studies of stem cells. Stem cell therapy, however, involves scientists and researchers more than just those from the field of cell biology. The studies of stem cell therapy is essentially the application of stem cells to the betterment of the human body. In other words, stem cell therapy is truly a form of disease treatment. As soon as disease treatment is concerned, you will find the involvement of medical specialists.
The literature on stem cell therapy can get awfully technical and complicated to non-medical and non-scientific persons. If a layman tries to research for information, one can give up quite easily due to the technical terminologies in this topic that encompasses many disciplines. However, as a prudent person with a desire to be informed about this hottest form of medical treatment, we need to make an effort to know as much as possible about this quickly evolving science.
When I scour the internet and survey the multitude of websites talking about stem cell therapy, one particular site caught my curiosity. This particular website is named Stem Cell Malaysia. What makes this stem cells website special or unique is the way the information is presented. The most striking thing that caught my attention is the way the author of the website discusses stem cell therapy. What really impressed me is not only the author’s understanding of the field but also his ability to present the complicated in a manner that is easy to understand. If the information on this site or any other site gets difficult to understand, try reading his rendition of stem cell therapy.
Defining Stem Cell Therapy
For the sake of simplicity, we can define stem cell therapy as a branch of therapy through the exploitation of stem cells. As you can imagine from this definition, stem cell therapy is used interchangeably with stem cells treatment. By taking a more thoughtful examination of the definition, we will need to explore numerous pertinent topics in order to have a sound understanding of stem cell therapy. We need to look at stem cells, how is stem cell therapy done, and what diseases can be treated with stem cell therapy.
Stem cells are nothing more than cells which can divide and multiply into all sorts of cells in our body. This is a simplified view of stem cells. As your read about stem cells in reference books and articles on the internet, you will encounter a whole classification of stem cells, such as multipotent and pluripotent stem cells. Trying to study the various types of stem cells can get to be a nightmare and discouraging if you are not savvy in biology. We will get more technical later in looking at stem cells in one of my upcoming articles.
Stem cells are ordained with special characteristics that make them powerful as ‘seed’ cells for development of other cells. They are considered to be undifferentiated cells, meaning they have yet to specialized in their functionality as is tissue cells or nerve cells. This is the underlying potential of stem cells. Another way of putting it is that stem cells are the parent materials for growing every other type of cells in the human body. This is one major reason stem cell scientists hold such high hope in applying them to treatment.
Stem cells also possess the ability to divide into more stem cells with the exact same characteristics. This is another highly potent feature of stem cells. Imagine if you have a pool of stem cells which can duplicate into a larger pool of stem cells, the potential for growing more cells and different cell types is beyond the scientists’ wildest dream.
Types of Stem Cells Used in Stem Cell Therapy
Here we will not talk about sources of stem cells other than from the human body. It suffice to mention here that animal sources of stem cells have been used for decades in stem cell therapy on the human body. The most commonly used animal sources are sheep and deer. This is particularly true when stem cell therapy is applied to beauty and anti-aging. As you probably know such stem cell therapy in Switzerland is very famous. Rich people who want to look young and youthful often fly to Switzerland to have their body and face zapped with stem cells from animal sources.
Here I will focus your attention more to the human source of stem cells for stem cell therapy. With the human source of stem cells, ethical and controversial issues arise when stem cells are taken from another person. Some of the issues can get very intense when embryonic stem cells are used in stem cell therapy. The reason for this is when embryonic stem cells are used, it involves killing the fetus in order to harvest the stem cells. When this happens, it borders on the issue of taking away life if one considers fetus as the beginning of life.
Today’s stem cell research and studies mostly focus on using adult stem cells. This can avoid the controversial issues involved in embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells can be extracted from the patient without killing a fetus or taking stem cells from another human being.
Forms of Stem Cell Therapy
The most common form of stem cell therapy is by injection. Injection is the choice modality for administering stem cell therapy because it is the easiest way to introduce stem cells into the body.Essentially, once the targeted stem cells are extracted and isolated, doctors can quickly inject them back to the targeted site of the patient’s body. Both the doctor and patient like this method of administering because it is an easy task for the doctor and it’s quick to go through the therapy for the patient.
Oral form of stem cell therapy is now possible because of technological advancement. Stem cells can be freeze-dried and stored for years before they lose their viability. Furthermore the freeze-dried stem cells can be encapsulated with special capsules that preserve the stem cells’ viability. It is possible that this form of stem cell therapy will pick up in popularity as time goes by.
Stem cell therapy can also be performed through transplantation. Bone marrow and blood can both be administered via transplantation. Bone marrow transplantation is probably the most commonly practiced form of stem cell therapy.
Types of Diseases Treatable with Stem Cell Therapy
The number of diseases which can be treated by stem cell therapy as approved by the official authority is very limited. There is only a small number if diseases that licensed stem cell therapy setup is allowed to treat. These diseases are mostly blood related disorder and bone marrow transplant. This is the underlying foundation for collection of cord blood. Many diseases that are good prospects for stem cell therapy are largely in the experimental stage. It may take years or longer before medical facilities can provide the treatment.
This post is an overview article. Thank you for reading and hope you return soon for more articles on stem cell therapy.