Stem cell therapy has existed as a valid disease treatment since the 1950s when Donnall Thomas performed the first bone marrow transplant.
Although the science behind his discovery was not fully understood until much later — it wasn’t until the 1980s that embryonic stem cells were finally isolated and adult stem cells were converted from one type of cell to another, thereby illustrating the importance of their role in developmental and regenerative instruction — Thomas essentially laid the foundation for modern immunotherapy, regenerative medicine, and bioengineering.
Here’s a quick review of everything you need to know about stem cell therapy:
But First, What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are the body’s “master cells.” They have the ability to become other types of cells and are able to self replicate, meaning they can create copies of themselves over and over.
There are two types of stem cells: embryonic and adult stem cells.
Most stem cell therapies utilize adult stem cells, leaving embryonic stem cells for research due to the controversy surrounding their harvesting and their federally regulated supply and conditions for use.
How Does Stem Cell Therapy Work?
In the past, when many types of cells in our bodies degraded, it was not possible to replace them, meaning people were stuck with the effects of their injury, disease, condition and/or age. Through research, however, the medical community now knows about stem cells and better understands their role in cellular growth and repair, as well as their potential to replace damaged, diseased and aging cells.
Stem cell therapy, then, attempts to harness the restorative potency of stem cells. Doctors remove one or more types of stem cells from one body and reinject them into the same or different body in order to facilitate the replenishment of healthy cells.
Common places from which to harvest stem cells are bone marrow, adipose tissues, and cord blood.
What Conditions Can Stem Cell Therapy Potentially Treat?
Traditionally, stem cell therapy has been used to treat leukemia and other blood disorders, as evidenced by the initial use of stem cells via bone marrow transplantation.
Today, however, stem cell therapy is being used to treat a variety of conditions.
Many doctors are now using stem cell therapy for herniated discs and other degenerative back and joint conditions, erectile dysfunction and more.
Indeed, some of the most innovative research into stem cell usage deals with bioengineering and therapeutic cloning and the possibility of growing transplantable tissues and other biomaterials.
It’s an exciting time for modern medicine, made possible by the continuing research on stem cells and cellular therapies!
Doctors and researchers are making enormous breakthroughs in comprehending normal development and solving the puzzle behind what goes wrong in disease.
Though every day they are developing and testing new treatments to assist patients there is still much to learn about the correlation of the working of stem cells and the healing capacity of the body.
The greatest challenges are safe and effective treatments for patients.