Stem Cells may be The Cure
The remedy to diseases could already be inside each one of us. Scientists are researching the possibilities of stem cell therapy like body and cell regeneration and growing new body parts – all from the patient’s own cells. The therapy uses stem cells, which are unspecialized cells, either from the patient or donors and induces those cells to transform into another type of cell like brain and heart to replace or repair damaged tissues from that organ or area. An example is bone marrow stem cell therapy for certain cancer types, but is not also being tested to cure other injuries and diseases.
Stem cells could bridge just about any area of medicine and could even be the new antibiotic as per the director of Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute Joshua Hare from University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Present-Day Stem Cells Therapy
Stem cells today are not harvested from embryos anymore. They come from adult body tissues like skin, bone marrow or fat. Called master cells, they can repair internally any damage caused by injuries or disease as they have the capability to continuously morph, replicate and replenish other cells.
But professionals still caution people from undergoing just any stem cell procedure. Thorough rigorous research needs to be done first as most of stem cell therapies are still experimental. There have been reports of patients that have undergone stem cell injections to treat age-related macular degeneration having lost their vision after the procedure.
There are established therapies to date and those are for musculoskeletal problems like arthritis of the hips, shoulder and knee, Achilles tendonitis and meniscus tears. An outpatient procedure, stem cells taken from belly fat or bone marrow of patients are injected to the injured area or joint which can delay the wear and tear.
A 62 year old squash player and cyclist from Margate, Mike Barnet refused to undergo the knife to have both knees replaced along with a torn meniscus. After contacting Jazrawi, he got injected on his right knee with stem cells taken from his pelvic bone and the knee was free from swelling or pain and is two and a half years in from the time of procedure.
Research on Stem Cells
Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic are conducting experiments on how stem cells can remedy urinary incontinence by regenerating the sphincter muscles to help it close and prevent leakage. From their research, two thirds of women that received an injection into the urethra experienced improvement more than 50 percent while compared to the 75 to 80 percent treatment with surgery.
It is still not clear how stem cell therapy actually work but what researchers are learning is that stem cells teach healing from within to the body as per cardiologist and director of the cardiac regenerative medicine program Atta Behfar from Mayo Clinic. Stem cells tell a heart damaged by a heart attack – or your body in general – to heal, and does not work like a repair kit.
Chairman Lawrence Wechsler of the department of neurology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine stated that victims of stroke, when injected with stem cells into the brain releases components that aid in recovery. Researchers from Mayo Clinic are looking into the possibility of stem cells curing brain cancer. Experiments on mice show that stem cells help either shrink tumors or complete remission.
But results aren’t always as grand. Kate Brock of Maryland has her entire right side semi-paralyzed. 3 years later she had stem cell treatment to her brain where she gained strength and mobility in her arm but was short-lived.
Other than injections targeted at specific areas, stem cells are being researched as a way to treat the onset of frailty due to aging. Initial studies found that immune functions and physical performance have improved, and systemic inflammation was reduced significantly.
Cellular research is still experimental and people are advised to take caution and perform diligent research beforehand.