Stem cells have been the subject of much research and discussion over the last couple of decades. There are a number of possible medical uses of stem cells currently being explored, and stem cell therapy is currently used to help patients fight off certain types of cancer by bolstering their immune system and replacing cells damaged by chemotherapy. Stem cell therapy can also be used to regenerate or repair damaged tissue and reduce symptoms of orthopedic and autoimmune conditions, while also being considered beneficial for those experiencing pain due to chronic inflammation.
What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are the starting point in the body for cell regeneration and function. Other types of cells in your body, such as blood cells and nerve cells, all come from stem cells that have developed into specialized cells. Stem cells can divide, either naturally or due to manipulation in a lab environment, and the new cells produced are referred to as daughter cells. These daughter cells can then develop into specialized cells or remain as stem cells.
Stem cells for use in medical research and stem cell therapy can be harvested from embryonic stem cells, which are more versatile than adult stem cells. This makes them easier to manipulate into specialized cells for therapeutic use. Adult stem cells are most commonly harvested from bone marrow, but these cells are more difficult to manipulate, so their use is limited.
Why Are Stem Cells Important?
Stem cell research and therapy can help the medical community treat conditions that are hard to manage and could help develop a clearer understanding of how diseases develop. Stem cells can also be used to test new drugs for safety in human application and to test the effectiveness of drugs targeting a particular part of the body. For example, a new drug for cardiac disease could be tested on cardiac cells generated from stem cells.
How Does Stem Cell Therapy Work?
Stem cell therapy utilizes cells that are grown in a lab and manipulated into specialized cells. These cells are then implanted directly into the area of the body to be treated and will begin contributing to repairing or replacing damaged cells in the target area. Stem cell therapy can be used in place of organ transplantation, which is an exciting development due to donor organs being in short supply.
If you'd like to know more about stem cell therapy, schedule an appointment to discuss the suitability of the treatment with your doctor and ask any questions you may have.