Stem cells are cells capable of transforming
themselves into different biological
cells in our body performing various functions like transmitting messages,
transporting oxygen, carrying impulses, manufacturing proteins, producing
pigments and carrying out the manufacture of different substances required by
Obtained from the umbilical cord after birth, and throughout the life
from blood, bone marrow and adipose tissue, stem cells possess amazing qualities
of regeneration and pluripotency. While the property of regeneration comes
quite handy while repairing damaged tissues of the body, pluripotent cells like
the stem cell can differentiate into any kind of cell-exactly the quality
required for the development of an entire fetus from a single cell.
Needless to say, stem cells have become the
subject of research among many scientists.
Stem Cell Therapy:
the decades, stem cells have contributed to the development in a huge number of
treatment options for various diseases including diabetes, cancer and
cardiovascular ailments. Have a quick look at how stem cell therapy has covered
and uplifted the treatment of these disorders. Read on.
Cancer, being one of the
most fearsome diseases, is now
relatively easy to handle-all thanks to stem cell therapy. Brain cancer is the
most difficult to treat, mostly due to its rapid spread and its asymptomatic
nature in the early stage. Stem cell therapy promises to treat intracranial
tumors as efficiently as it does in dogs and other research animals.
The researchers at Harvard Medical School are
currently working on a model of drug development that may, in the next few
years, enable doctors to reduce brain tumors by 80% of their size with the
introduction of stem cells in the cancerous cells.
Parkinson's and Alzheimer's cases on the rise, the need for drugs that reverse
brain ageing has increased. The regenerative property of stem cells works
equally well in these cases and is expected to treat more than a million
Brain injury involving loss of neurons is
compensated effectively by injecting neural stem cells. This maintains the
healthy neuron population and reduces possible loss of physiological functions
due to the damaged parts.
animal studies on the use of stem cells for treatment of myocardial infarction
showed remarkable therapeutic effects, human studies have demonstrated modest,
yet statistically significant effects. This is because the effectiveness of
this treatment greatly depends on the age of the subject, the timing of the
treatment, and the number of re-occurrences of myocardial infarction.
For myocardial infarction and other
cardiovascular ailments, stem cell therapy works either by regenerating damaged
heart muscle, or by stimulating the growth of new blood vessels to repopulate
the damaged tissues, or by stimulating growth factors.
in 2003, Korean researchers managed to help a lady suffering from spinal cord
injury, paralyzed and in bed for roughly 19 years, walk around and perform
different day-to-day works. Stem cells extracted from the umbilical cord helped
them induce regeneration of nerve cells and restore locomotive functions in the
This amazing work has motivated many scientists
and in the near future, diseases like muscular dystrophy would hopefully find a
cell therapy may prove to be good news to those suffering from vision
impairment and macular degeneration. The use of corneal stem cells to stimulate
damaged corneal cells and renew repair has been done since the year 2005, and
with the research still going on, in the future, it may be possible to restore
normal vision in patients even by extracting stem cells from a relative or a
scientists at King's College, London worked and gave rise to a complete tooth
in mice. This technique is expected to work for humans too, by coaxing stem
cells to turn into an entire tooth using stand alone methodology. This tooth,
when implanted on the gums is thought to secrete chemicals and substances that
stimulate the nerves and blood vessels to connect to it.
Using embryonic stem
cells, cochlea hair can be re-grown, paving a new way for the deaf to finally
hear and restore the vital sense.
Diabetes, a disease
affecting millions of people worldwide, happens due to a loss of function of
the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. Stem cell therapy can help diabetic
patients handle their blood sugar levels better by transplanting human
embryonic stem cells into the patient. The success of this treatment is largely
dependent on the proliferation of the transplanted cells, the integration of
the cells in the targeted tissue, and prevention of transplant rejection.
found that the differentiation of stem cells can lead to the production of
sperm-like cells which may prove to be helpful in the treatment of azoospermia.
Also, oogonal stem cells are capable of forming mature oocytes in both mice and
tissue repair is different from that of adults. While in the fetus, damaged
tissue repair is done by the stem cells, adults have a different tissue repair
system involving damaged hair follicles, scar tissue, disorganized collagen
structure and irregular vascular structure. In stem cell therapy, adults are
injected with stem cells in the wounded tissue to promote healing similar to
fetal wound healing response.
The new research:
researchers are constantly being conducted and millions of dollars are being
spent every year on clinical trials and animal studies to help develop new
treatment procedures for genetic diseases and incurable ailments. Listed below
are a few of them.
suffering from tendon injury, osteoarthritis, ligament injury, subchondral bone
cysts and other orthopedic diseases can now be treated by stem cell
therapy-more efficient and faster than conventional treatments.
horses go through numerous joint and tendon injuries. Regeneration by
introduction of bone marrow and adipose cells displayed surprisingly effective
stem cell research implanting mesenchymal cells at the site of spinal cord injury
has been tried out in animals. This treatment has produced higher improvement
compared to conventional therapies.
bone is equipped with a natural healing process that is sufficient enough for
its own repair. However, in case of severe trauma and fractures, seeding of
mesenchymal stem cells is done. This therapy may help treat a huge number of
patients suffering from degenerative bone diseases. Pain reduction is one of
the added plus points in this process.
Lee, Assistant Professor at the John Hopkins's University School of Medicine's
Institute for Cell Engineering, used pluripotent cells to replicate an
individual's diseased cells and check the effects of pharmacological agents on
it. Lee and his colleagues biochemically programmed the skin cells from a
patient suffering from Riley-Day syndrome, a rare genetic disease, to form
iPSC's-which can replicate and grow into any other cell of the body.
These iPSC's were then programmed to replicate
the 'affected' nerve cells of the patient suffering from Riley Day syndrome.
They then used these lab-grown nerve cells to test the effects of around 7000
drugs, which would have been potentially impossible to be done on an
This type of testing may prove to reap enormous
benefits for the drug development of rare genetic diseases as opposed to other
costly models of drug development.