What is the Significance Of Stem Cells?
Stem cells are considered significant for living organisms for various reasons. In the three to a five-day-old embryo, medically known as a blastocyst, the inner stem cells provide life to the entire organism including specialized organs, such as the lung, heart, sperm, eggs, skin, and other tissues.
In adult tissue, such as the brain, muscle, and bone marrow, discrete use of adult stem cells can generate the replacement for cells that are damaged or killed as a result of disease, injury or wear-and-tear.
Based on their elusive regenerative abilities, stem cells provide physicians with new opportunities for treating conditions including heart disease and diabetes.
Despite advancement in this arena, much work needs to be done in laboratories with research to fully understand the significance of stem cells and how it can be used to treat disease – a practice referred to as reparative or regenerative medicine.
Clinical studies of stem cell treatment enable researchers to learn about the significance of stem cells and what makes them unique from specialized cell forms.
Scientists are currently using stem cells to screen for new drugs and develop systems to study the growth of embryos and investigate the causes of birth defects.
Despite the existing knowledge and use the significance of stem cells, research of stem cells continues allowing people to learn how an organism develops from one cell and how healthy cells replaced damaged ones in adults.
Stem cell research is arguably the most exciting areas of contemporary biology; however, it has many fields of scientific inquiry and is rapidly generating new discoveries in many different medical sectors.
Can Doctors Use Stem Cells As Treatment For Patients?
Certain stem cells, such as the adult peripheral blood or bone marrow stem cells have been used by physicians for over four decades.
Therapies using stem cells have included skin replacement procedures where the stem cells are harvested from the patient’s hair follicles and grown to produce suitable skin grafts.
Neural stem cells have been used in clinical trials investigating neuron disease or damage; however, there were side effects in these studies and further research is required. While there is more research to be performed in the future, the evidence from the trials offers hope for stem cell treatment with stem cell research.
What Are The Therapies Available Using Stem Cells?
1. The Adult Stem Cell Treatments
As is mentioned above, adult peripheral blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants have been performed in specialized clinics for over four decades treating patients with blood conditions including leukemia and lymphoma.
Research into stem cell therapy has indicated that stem cells are located in most tissues in the body; however, further research is required to learn how to effectively identify, extract, and proliferate the cells for use in alternative treatments.
Researchers hope to use their studies to promote treatment for conditions including type I diabetes or reparation of the heart muscle after cardiac arrest.
2. Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy
Research has shown a potential to use embryonic stem cell or ESC treatment in the future.
As studies continue, physicians learn how to differentiate between embryonic stem cells and when the method is understood, the hope is to apply the different cell of choice for the patient according to their condition.
The different conditions being targeted by ESC treatment include spinal cord injury, diabetes, heart disease, muscular dystrophy, vision loss, and hearing loss.
3. Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapy
Treatments utilizing the induced pluripotent stem cells are unique because the somatic cell of the patient can be regenerated to an embryonic state.
The mechanisms used to differentiate the cells will then be applied to generate the particular cell required to treat the condition.
This is most appealing to physicians as it avoids any problems with histocompatibility or lifelong immunosuppression, which is required if the transplant uses donor stem cells.
The induced pluripotent stem cell operates by mimicking most embryonic stem cell elements, but it does not carry the ethical issues involved with embryonic stem cell research.
This is due to the fact that induced pluripotent cells have not been manipulated to grow outside of the embryonic cell when prepared for treatment.
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