How Stem Cell Treatments Came to Be?
The use of stem cells for treatments or stem cell therapies actually started many decades ago. In the 1960s, doctors found that transplanting bone marrow stem cells can actually help patients with Leukemia recover better and faster.
Since then, many adult stem cells are being used for various treatments. In fact, shortly after the approval of bone marrow stem cell therapies, neural stem cells- the ones that are responsible for treating Parkinson’s disease, had actually been approved by the FDA to treat spinal cord injuries as well (after many clinical trials, of course).
But, before the actual transplantation in humans, stem cells were actually tested in mice. Bone marrow stromal cells were injected into mice that had suffered from a heart attack and it was found that the said cells actually started the healing process. After a few weeks, the affected mice were actually healthier than before.
It is important to know that stem cells, in some cases, do not actually regenerate tissue themselves, but rather, they act as the “trigger” that will induce the healing process which will make the surrounding cells in the damaged region of the body to work as it should.
How Do You Achieve Successful Stem Cell Treatments?
For the stem cells to actually do their job really well, it has to meet certain criteria:
- The cells need to divide to as many numbers as possible so that they can initiate the healing process. In embryonic stem cells, this is no problem since it is inherent in them to divide indefinitely. However, the same is not true for adult stem cells. And, since most treatments nowadays make use of the latter, the doctors would have to extract enough stem cells either from the patient or the donor to make the treatments work.
- The stem cells would need to differentiate or form into specific cells to initiate the healing process. For instance, bone marrow stem cells should turn into hematopoietic (blood-forming) cells to trigger the production of blood cells in the body.
Although there are various medical uses for stem cells, it is still important for you to understand that the use of such cells is still considered “experimental”, even to this day. The reason why it received such a distinction is due to the fact that we still do not grasp its full potential yet and we haven’t documented all of the possible side effects it entails.
Furthermore, the use of embryonic stem cells is still filled with controversy due to where the scientists get the said stem cells.
Be that as it may, it is still best that you confer with your doctor if you’re looking to get a stem cell transplant. Remember, stem cells can actually help you recover, but there are some cases where other treatments are a more viable option for you.