You’ve probably heard about stem cell therapy in the news or you’ve read something about it online. The procedure, although still in its early development, has been quite successful in the treatment of certain illnesses including, but not limited to, Cancers, Parkinson’s Disease, Diabetes, Spinal Cord injuries, and so on.
So, what is stem cell therapy exactly? Well, it is just a collection of techniques that are geared toward replacing the damaged stem cells in a patient’s body and replacing them with new and healthy ones.
Every one of us is able to produce these stem cells and they are extracted from a person’s bone marrow. They can either be Allogenic or extracted from another person or Autologous or extracted from the patient themselves.
There are plenty of different types of stem cells being used in the treatments of diseases and other medical conditions. I will just go over four of them since they are the ones that are being used medically to this day.
- Bone Marrow Stem Cells– These are cells that are mainly extracted from the bone marrow of the patient or from another person.
- Peripheral Stem Cells- These are stem cells that are being transplanted to a patient who has undergone chemotherapy or procedures that have a damaging effect on the person’s cells. This method is just a way of replacing those damaged cells.
- Transplants Using Umbilical Cord Blood– There are also some stem cells that can be acquired from an umbilical cord blood. This is why you hear people getting stem cells from mothers who just gave birth to their child.
- Therapeutic Cloning- In a nutshell, this type of procedure is where a nucleus of a cell is inserted to a fertilized egg which its nucleus has been removed prior to the transplant. Once it evolves to a blastocyst, it is rich in stem cells and thus, can be extracted by the doctor to be transplanted to a patient who is in need of these cells.
What is the Main Goal of Stem Cell Therapy?
Although the discipline has not been well established yet, at least, in terms of other medical procedures, stem cell therapy has proven to us that it is indeed quite useful in many cases.
Bone Marrow Stem Cell therapy, for example, has been used extensively in the treatment of different types of cancer including leukemia and lung cancers.
The stem cells can also be transplanted to a person who is supposedly going ‘under the knife’ to replace their knees, hips, or other parts of the body. The cells have a great regenerative effect that can repair cartilage, bones, and other muscle tissues.
The Different Challenges
There are plenty of challenges that stem cell therapy has faced. For one, the stem cells cannot be extracted individually since when you get that from the bone marrow, you actually get a tissue culture. Each culture has plenty of cells and you only have to extract the stem cells that you want from it- a procedure that requires precision to do.
Furthermore, the individual cells that you will need have to be identified and then isolated before extraction which can prove to be time-consuming, even with modern technology.
Lastly, the stem cells would need to be highly compatible with the patient. This is because the transplanted cells when they’re incompatible to the subject, will be deemed as some foreign matter which kicks the person’s immune system into high gear just to fend it off.
In conclusion, although there are a lot of health benefits being associated with the use of stem cells, the science still needs a lot of research so that we can perfect its usage for the patients who will need it in the future.