Advancements in medical technology have allowed medical experts to find new ways to treat different diseases, injuries, and other health-related conditions. Among these ground-breaking treatment options is a therapy that makes use of stem cells, or undifferentiated cells that can be differentiated into specialized cell types.
Years ago, scientists were only able to work with two kinds of stem cells, namely embryonic and adult stem cells. Recently, however, scientists were able to grow stem cells in the laboratory, giving birth to human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells. Research on stem cells continues until today, but medical experts have already been harnessing its unique regenerative abilities to treat different health conditions.
The Importance of Stem Cells
Stem cells are actually vital in the development stage of a living organism. For a 3- to 5-day-old embryo, the inner cells will then develop into specialized cell types and organs. In certain adult tissues, a discrete number of adult stem cells can generate replacement for cells lost through normal wear and tear, injury, or disease.
How do scientists extract stem cells? These are either extracted from a dividing zygote in a culture dish or from an adult tissue. After extracting these stem cells, scientists will then place them in a controlled culture, where they cannot specialize or differentiate.
Generally, stem cells differ from other kinds of cells in the body due to three properties. First, stem cells are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods. Second, these cells don’t have any tissue-specific functions that allow it to perform specific functions. Third, unspecialized stem cells can turn into specialized cells as needed.
The Promising Results
Medical experts have been harnessing the regenerative abilities of stem cells, to mostly positive results. In fact, numerous studies have been conducted to further solidify its promising effects on treating certain health conditions. For instance, stem cells have been used for children with leukemia. Stem cell therapy is also being used to treat diseases or injury to the bones.
Despite these advancements, there’s still much to learn about stem cells. Scientists are yet to unravel its full potential when it comes to treating different health conditions. Today, stem cell research focuses on creating technologies to treat conditions such as cancer, spinal cord injuries, and muscle damage.
Undeniably, stem cells can hold the key in finding alternative treatments for different health conditions. Today, a number of medical facilities offer state-of-the-art stem cell therapies for those seeking pain relief from chronic joint pain or arthritis.
Stem Cell Basics, StemCells.NIH.gov
Nine Things To Know About Stem Cell Treatments, CloserLookAtStemCells.org