Stem Cell Therapy – The Basic Information
Stem cell therapy is a type of regenerative medicine. It is designed to reduce inflammation and modulate the body’s immune system, thereby repairing damaged cells. This mode of treatment makes stem cell therapy a great treatment option for various medical conditions.
Stem cell therapies have helped in treating the following conditions –
- Traumatic injuries
Studies using stem cell therapy have also been conducted to use for –
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Stroke recovery
Stem cell therapy won’t necessarily provide a cure for the aforementioned conditions. The goal is to allow the body to heal itself, hence mitigating the symptoms of the diseases for longer periods. In most cases, the effect of stem cell therapies substantially improves the quality of life for patients while also delaying the progress of the disease.
What Are Stem Cells?
Think of stem cells as the body’s raw materials. Other cells with more specialized functions arise from stem cells. Under the proper conditions, whether in the body or a lab, stem cells divide and form more cells. These are termed daughter cells.
The daughter cells will either –
- Self-renew and become new stem cells or,
- Differentiate into specialized cells such as brain cells, blood cells, bone cells, heart muscle cells, etc.
No other cell in the human body can generate newer cells.
Where Are Stem Cells Obtained From?
There are various sources of stem cells discovered by researchers –.
Embryonic Stem Cells
As the name suggests, stem cells come from 3-5 day old embryos. The stem cells obtained from the embryo are “pluripotent”, meaning they can divide and either self-renew or differentiate into other cells. This behavior allows embryonic stem cells to be used to repair or regenerate diseased organs and tissues.
Adult Stem Cells
Found in a small number, these are obtained from adult tissues like fat or bone marrow. While they have a limited ability to multiply, adult stem cells can create various types of specialized cells, according to research.
Altered Adult Cells
Scientists have successfully managed to transform regular adult cells into stem cells. They’ve achieved this with the help of genetic reprogramming. By changing the genes, adult cells can be reprogrammed to act similar to embryonic stem cells.
More research is underway on how altered adult cells can help in stem cell therapies.
Perinatal Stem Cells
Stem cells have been unearthed in umbilical cord blood and amniotic fluid. These stem cells can differentiate and form specialized cells.
Amniotic fluid is responsible for protecting a developing fetus in the uterus. Stem cells have been identified when the fluid sample was drawn from expecting women to test for abnormalities. The procedure is called amniocentesis.
What Are The Different Types Of Stem Cell Therapies?
In a nutshell, there are two categories of stem cell therapies –
- One approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- One unapproved
Whether or not stem cell therapy is approved holds critical implications for the effectiveness, safety, and science of the procedure.
Currently, only a handful of FDA-approved stem cell therapies are available. The most common one is blood stem cell therapy. In this, blood stem cells are transplanted in the patient. This helps treat patients with blood cancers. The therapy works by attacking harmful cancer cells via chemotherapy. These are then replaced with healthy stem cells. The stem cells will then, hopefully, divide and give rise to healthy tissue.
Similar to all FDA-approved treatments, the blood stem cell transplant procedure involved rigorous testing and research over many years.
Other than blood stem cell transplants, the FDA website lists a limited number of additional approved therapies.
How Are Stem Cells Introduced In The Body?
In stem cell therapies, stem cells are administered in various ways –
- Intravenous stem cell therapy
- Intrathecal stem cell therapy – administered directly into the spinal cord
- Site injections – into problematic areas such as hips, knees, hands, etc.
How Does Stem Cell Therapy Work?
Mesenchymal stem cells are adult stem cells that can self-renew. Furthermore, they can divide and develop into multiple specialized cell types. These adult stem cells utilize the following properties to bring about positive change within the body –
Researchers grow stem cells in a laboratory setting. The stem cells are then manipulated to differentiate into specific types of cells, such as blood cells, nerve cells, heart muscle cells, etc. The specialized cells are then implanted into a person.
For instance, a person with heart issues could have differentiated cells injected into the heart muscle. Healthy heart muscle cells could contribute to repairing and fixing the defective heart muscle.
Enough evidence exists to show that adult bone marrow cells can be guided to become heart-like cells. These then repair the heart tissue in patients. More research is currently underway.
Risks Associated With Stem Cell Therapy
Many patients understand that going through side effects is possible with any medical treatment. However, it isn’t the same for everyone. One patient might experience many side effects with medication, while another patient experiences zero side effects even though they’ve taken the same medication.
Side effects also have different degrees of severity, particularly when it comes to stem cell therapies. A lot of the treatment’s risks involve short-term issues such as –
- Pain from nerve or tissue inflammation
Patients undergoing stem cell therapies are exposed to a pretty low risk of serious side effects. Avoiding medication that might stifle the immune system during stem cell treatment greatly increases the patient’s chances of fighting off an infection.
To find out more about stem cell therapies, how they work, and what you can expect, feel free to get in touch with the OrthoCure clinic. You can schedule an appointment by calling (612) 800-5096. You can also come in to find out whether therapies offered at our clinic are right for you. Dr. Hanson will be more than happy to help you understand how his minimally invasive treatments can work for you. Take the first step to a healthier life!