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Overview of Stem Cell Therapy

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 24 Dec 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Stem Cell Therapy Therapies Disease

With the wealth of information available on stem cell therapy, it can be overwhelming to read through what is often complex and confusing material. A quick fact sheet on stem cell therapy is a good way to familiarise yourself with the subject and decide if further reading is of interest or benefit.

What is Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem cell therapy is a set of techniques that aim to replace cells damaged or destroyed by disease with healthy functioning ones. The techniques themselves are still relatively new but their applications and benefits are broad. Some of the diseases they can help include:
  • Cancer
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Diabetes
  • Various injuries (e.g. spinal cord)
  • Eye diseases

Types of Stem Cell Therapy

There are a number of stem cell therapies that are currently being investigated or used to treat a range of diseases. These are:
  • Adult stem cell transplants using bone marrow stem cells
  • Adult stem cell transplants using peripheral stem cells
  • Stem cell transplants using umbilical cord blood
  • Therapeutic cloning

Benefits of Current Stem Cell Therapy

Although a great deal of stem cell therapy is still experimental, researchers have found the treatments promising for many diseases. Bone marrow stem cells, for example, are used to replace blood cells in people suffering from leukaemia and other cancers. Burn victims are also benefiting from stem cell therapy, which allows for new skin cells to be grafted as a replacement for damaged ones. New healthy cells can also be grown to treat eye diseases as well as replace dysfunctional tissues. The ultimate goal of stem cell therapy is to replace unhealthy cells with healthy ones and to do so efficiently, allowing proper cell functioning in the human body. In addition, the potential uses for stem cell therapy continue to grow as we learn more about the process whereby a healthy cell becomes a diseased one.

Challenges of Stem Cell Therapy

A major difficulty with stem cell therapy is to identify stem cells within an actual tissue culture. Cultures contain many different cells and it is a challenge to identify specific cell types. When the stem cells are identified and then isolated from tissues, the appropriate solutions must be created to trigger these cells to develop into the desired cell types.

Finally, there are additional issues even when cells are identified, isolated and grown. The new cells require implantation in a person and they must then essentially learn how to effectively function alongside a person's own tissues. For instance, if you imagine a cardiac cell being implanted, think about the fact that it may not beat with the same rhythm of a person's heart cells and is thus ineffective. A person's immune system may also recognise the transplanted cells as foreign bodies and this can trigger an immune reaction that results in rejection of the new cells.

The potential of stem cell therapy to ease human suffering and dramatically affect disease has motivated scientists to research ways of enhancing current stem cell therapies and develop new ones. Stem cell therapy remains a new science but the results have thus far been impressive enough that scientists are eagerly studying ways to treat the many diseases that you or a loved one may suffer from one day.

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[Add a Comment]
How and where do I volunteerfor stem cells? I live in Merseyside. I havehad failing sight for 4years and am near the limit. I touch-ype.I am 92.
Mona - 24-Dec-15 @ 9:57 AM
I am interested if anyone would initiate stem cell therapy for poor joint healing post operatively
Maureen - 16-Oct-15 @ 3:40 AM
Stem cell therapy is exhilarating. It is such a broad and fascinating subject with a lot of research being put in. In India, a lot of hospitals are providing such treatment. Regarding your question above, Mumbai is limited to such research and application. Karachi is the place to go. In addition, Pakistan comes second to India with respect to its medical application and development, in addition to numerous and various other aspects.
Dr. Lawrence - 16-Apr-15 @ 11:53 AM
@Abdul Bashir - I'm afraid stem cells are currently still in the trial stages and not being used specifically to cure such illnesses yet. However, I have included a link to NHS Clinical Trials here should you be interested. I hope this helps.
ExploreStemCells - 31-Mar-15 @ 11:56 AM
I have RRMS can stem cell therapy cure my problem?
Abdul Bashir - 28-Mar-15 @ 8:26 PM
I would like to know if Stem Cell Therapy works for Diabetic Neuropathy and would like to know the doctors in Mumbai -India who carry out stem cell therapy.
mahendra - 22-Jan-15 @ 3:48 PM
I would like to know if stem cell therapy works for Diabetic Beuropathy and if the same is available in India
mahendra - 22-Jan-15 @ 3:32 PM
Hiii..... Please can anyone tell me, is stemcell therapy usefull for thalsemmia patient. what is a result of this therapy.
Bala - 8-Oct-14 @ 8:34 AM
Hi I am having sensory Neural hearing loss . Is Stem cells therapy to cure my hearing loss located hospitals in India ??
R - 28-Sep-14 @ 9:52 AM
I am interested in stem cell therapy for Diabetes
Nivia Gomez - 23-Sep-14 @ 11:11 PM
I would like to know more details about stem cell therapy and at the time of born which care need to take? and details of doctors,hospitals, consultants in Gujarat, India who can explain in details this therapy.
Vivek - 7-Sep-14 @ 7:30 AM
I would like to know the doctors/Hospitals in Mumbai -India who carry out stem cell therapy.
mahen - 28-Aug-14 @ 9:49 AM
I have stem cells from the umbilical cord from 2000 birth delivery in cryocell bank ... i have stage 4 breast cancer and WANT to use this to save my life ... who does this and where are they in our world?????
DOLLY - 24-Oct-11 @ 3:09 AM
stem cell therapy in cases of neurosurgery, e.g spinal cord injury & stroke.
monica - 23-Oct-11 @ 6:25 PM
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