Home > Stem Cell Problems > Concerns About Stem Cells

Concerns About Stem Cells

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 11 Oct 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Stem Cells Concerns Therapeutic

Despite the enormous therapeutic potential for stem cells to treat a vast array of serious diseases there are still concerns about potentially dangerous results. Scientists are excited about the possibilities of saving lives and reducing morbidity from disease but at the same time, there are fears regarding unexpected results and effects from stem cell usage. With recent technologies having triggered a major increase in stem cell treatments, the concept of stem cell therapies is no longer such a foreign one.

Both scientists and the public shouldn't, however, simply accept these technologies without first contemplating their impact on society. Although the benefits of stem cell therapies are enormous, risks must also be considered.

Passing on Viruses

A possible concern is that stem cell therapy could pass on viruses or other microscopic agents that cause disease. Patients who are receiving transplants often take strong drugs that essentially 'wipe out' their immune system. This is to reduce the chances of their body rejecting a transplant. The flip side is that if any viruses are present in the transplanted stem cells, a patient's immune system is completely vulnerable to disease.

Diseases From Other Animals

Animal sources may be used to provide nutrients to stem cells that are being cultivated in the laboratory. These sources could contain various diseases that may then be passed on to humans receiving cell-based therapies. A concern is that screening is currently insufficient to detect known diseases that may be present. Also, there may be diseases we are still yet unaware of that could be passed on to humans.

Uncontrolled Growth

One concern with embryonic stem cells is related to the very quality that makes them so useful and versatile. Embryonic stem cells are 'young' cells and tend to grow quickly; the fast growth must, however, be carefully guided by scientists. These stem cells need to be cultivated and directed into specialised cells with great care because the potential for remaining stem cells to grow uncontrolled could be disastrous. These uncontrolled cells could eventually form tumours.

Misdirected Growth

The possibility of transplanted stem cells differentiating into the wrong type of tissue is yet another concern regarding therapeutic stem cell use. Once stem cells are cultivated in a laboratory, researchers need to control and direct their growth into desired tissue cells. Scientists are attempting to overcome this problem by inducing partial stem cell differentiation prior to transplanting it into a patient. This would hopefully limit the capacity of the cells to differentiate into undesired tissue types once implanted.

At present, scientists still know very little about how stem cell differentiation is controlled. One such example occurred in 2001, when researchers claimed to have created cells that produced insulin. This claim was later found to be incorrect because cells had merely absorbed insulin from the environment, rather than producing it. Further research will ideally explain how cell signals operate to trigger cell differentiation.

Current stem cell treatments may eventually become routine and regular therapies for serious disease. It's important, however, that the safety of these therapies is evaluated and that caution is displayed before a therapy becomes accepted for use. This will allow everyone to reap the full benefits of stem cell therapies.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Very helpful, thanks for writing
Dr Who - 11-Oct-17 @ 2:47 PM
Your article was great help but at the same time makes me believe I have little chance of success with the embryonic stem cell injection I had placed in my knee for cartilage regeneration. After about 72 hours my knee got very hot relative to my leg above and below the joint. Three days later was followed by pain in the knee , all of which was expected. But then my knee started swelling up to the point two weeks after the injection I had three large (turkey batter) syringes of fluid taken out of my knee and then one more a week later. A sample was sent to see if there was any infection which turned out to be negative. All that fluid came from somewhere, so if it wasn't due to infection , I've got to believe I had stem cells attacked by my immune system, which led to all the fluids. Would you agree ? And am I crazy for considering getting another injection?
Glow - 18-May-17 @ 5:11 PM
Very informative article about the possible dangers associated with stem cell therapies, which is still in experimental stages and far from becoming mainstream.
Sandeep - 17-Sep-16 @ 9:30 AM
biologymajor - Your Question:
Thank you so much, this information was extremely helpful in completing a scientific article about stem cells. Could anyone tell me anything about the structure of stem cells? Or at least direct me to a good website on it.

Our Response:
The link: Properties of a Stem Cell, heremay help you, and What are Stem Cells? here. I hope this helps.
ExploreStemCells - 10-Mar-16 @ 10:09 AM
Thank you so much, this information was extremely helpful in completing a scientific article about stem cells. Could anyone tell me anything about the structure of stem cells? Or at least direct me to a good website on it.
biologymajor - 9-Mar-16 @ 9:45 AM
Wow much knowledge gained from dis site. lavvveeee it dude very helpful. ty. ly. chow
MEG the destroyer - 26-Jan-16 @ 3:04 PM
super amazeballs in helping me w/ my classwork, thanks broski!!!!!!!!
BB the destroyer - 26-Jan-16 @ 2:57 PM
Hi, In 2012, my fiancee (who was 31 at the time) had stem cell treatment using his own stem cells extracted from his fat through liposuction to attempt to improve a balance disorder. He was told that there would not be any side effects and that this was not a dangerous procedure. Since then, he constantly has cracking joints, pain between all his ribs (not sure if this is related) and has had a raised paraprotein that I fear may have been caused by his stem cell treatment. Can a raised paraprotein be caused by stem cell treatment? He is now seeing a haematologist as the doctor said it is rare to see a young man with a raised paraprotein. Any advice anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.
Andy - 15-Dec-15 @ 9:56 AM
this was very helpful for class thanks my dude!! you the real mvp
bebe - 4-Nov-14 @ 3:48 PM
I think this may help; Researchers do warn that we are still a long period of time away from translating the findings into actual treatments. They also state that stem cells from teeth will not be a ‘cure’ for all disease. These cells will, however, provide an ethical, efficient and non-invasive way to obtain stem cells that are compatible with many people in the population.
It's Really Hot In - 9-Oct-14 @ 7:45 PM
just don't know what to think or believe, uk doctors so against them, my daughter is ill and everytime I mention stem cells they advise me not to get but American doctors say the opposite who is telling the truth??
ness - 25-Sep-14 @ 9:32 AM
I think this may help; Researchers do warn that we are still a long period of time away from translating the findings into actual treatments. They also state that stem cells from teeth will not be a ‘cure’ for all disease. These cells will, however, provide an ethical, efficient and non-invasive way to obtain stem cells that are compatible with many people in the population.
bio - 12-Aug-14 @ 4:14 PM
I am a rheumatologist. I attended the TOBI (The Ortho Biologic Institute) symposium in Vegas, June 6,7, 2014, where there was an extensive presentation of the successful and safe, thus far, work currently being done by worldwide specialists in orthopedics, pain management, and reconstructive surgery , using regenerative therapy with PRP, adultparenchymal adipose stem cells or bone marrow aspirate stem cells to treat osteoarthritis, tendinopathies, nerve entrapments neuropathic pain, sports injuries, and trauma induced injuriesand even radiation dermatitis and ulcers related to peripheral arterial and venous insufficiency. These physicians are keeping patients registries and are carefully monitoring their patients. The results are so far very encouraging. My patients are requesting the now relatively popular adult parenchymal adipose stem cell (typically extracted from the infraumbilical subcuateneus fat) mixed with autologous PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatments for osteoarthritis of multiple joints. The use of PRP or the parenchymal adipose (or bone marrow) adult stem cellis currently not forbidden by the FDA, as long as they are minimally manipulated. Patients are aware of these treatment modality being used world wide now and are asking for this treatment since they are aware of its potential long lasting effect to control the symptoms of arthritis and to repair tendinopathy, they understand the tolerability of their immune system of an autologous implant and they alsowant to avoid using cortisone derivatives, some can not tolerate NSAIDs or Narcotics, others want to get away from chronic use of these products,and of course, acetaminophen does not work. My question to you is, how safe is it to perform these procedure regarding the potential for undesired differentiation (into ectopic tissues or tumors)of these transplantedadult parenchymal adipose stem cells into the joints and tendons? Thank you.
Azi - 27-Jul-14 @ 2:11 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the ExploreStemCells website. Please read our Disclaimer.