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Treatments with Stem Cells

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 2 Jul 2020 | comments*Discuss
Stem Cells Treatments Cancer

Stem cell treatments hold the exciting possibility of alleviating a great deal of human suffering and mortality. Unfortunately current existing stem cell treatments can be quite costly and are not widely accessible throughout the world. Others have shown promise but still require much research to ensure they are safe and consistently successful.

Current Stem Cell Treatments

Perhaps the most common stem cell treatment or at least the most commonly known, is a bone marrow transplant. In this treatment, a patient who has a disease such as leukaemia has their cancer cells destroyed by radiation or chemotherapy treatment. This treatment also destroys any healthy cells alongside cancer ones. The patient then receives an infusion of healthy, functioning stem cells from a suitable donor. These stem cells travel from the blood to the marrow, where they produce the white blood cells, platelets and red blood cells that are necessary for functions such as immunity, clotting and oxygen transport.

Potential Stem Cell Treatments

Although some of the following treatments have been successfully performed on human subjects, they are still considered potential treatments due to the infancy of their use and the lack of thorough scientific testing. With many stem cell studies currently underway into these areas, it is hoped that these will, one day, become widely used.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Research has shown that when paralysed mice are injected with human embryonic stem cells, they have shown the ability to walk. Stem cells were capable of replenishing neurons and the basis of this treatment could be extended to other similar injuries.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is a huge killer in the western world and the quest for effective treatments is an important one. Researchers have shown success in treating disorders of the heart with adult stem cells derived from other tissues. The limits on embryonic stem cell research in many parts of the world have led to intense efforts for research into adult stem cells. After suffering from a heart attack, the damaged heart cells can't regenerate and repair themselves, which severely narrows treatment options for patients. The potential for stem cells to provide a source of healthy, functioning cardiac cells would offer enormous benefit for the millions of people suffering from heart conditions.

Retinal Diseases

Embryonic stem cells have been used to treat blindness and other consequences of retinal diseases. Researchers utilise the properties of embryonic stem cells to regenerate vision. By transplanting stem cells in sheets over the damaged retina of a patient, the stem cells impart proper function to the eye and restore vision. The procedure still has a highly variable success rate and further studies should hopefully refine the standards and techniques used such that more people who suffer from retinal diseases can benefit from stem cell therapy.

Lou Gehrig's Disease

Lou Gehrig's disease is a degenerative condition affecting the motor neurons in the brain and spinal chord. Laboratory experiments have found that upon injection of stem cells into the spinal cord of rodents afflicted with a disease similar to Lou Gehrig's, they were able to walk again due to restored functioning of nerve cells.

Stem cell treatments can heal a very broad range of medical conditions but there still needs to be more research conducted to ensure a higher rate of success. With the exception of bone marrow transplants, which have been used for several decades now, stem cell treatments are still relatively new and require more extensive testing before they can be regularly used. Most scientists will agree, however, that stem cells hold great potential for treating disease and it is hoped that new treatments will continually be developed.

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Michellenelson305 - 23-Sep-19 @ 2:48 AM
Hello Ian : ) I am about to undertake autologous stem cell treatment for hair loss, and I am based in South Korea.Here, some hospitals have been advertising this SmartPrep technology developed by Harvard University (in conjunction with a machine called Harvest), which claims to extract mesenchymal stem cells from the patient's peripheral blood. The stem cells extracted are CD34's, according to the hospitals. When I read into things more closely from many different sources, it seems CD34's are not stem cells per se, but more like proteins, whose function is cell to cell adhesion.Further, there do seem to be stem cells present in blood cells, but it is not sure whether (1) stem cells can be collected from peripheral blood at all by this Smart Prep technology (academic articles indicate stem cells being collected only from bones or fats) or Harvest (similarly, the company's official site claims stem cells can be extracted from bones or fats, but only platelets from blood).Lastly, even if stem cells could be collected in this way, sources do not indicate whether such stem cells are mesenchymal (given mesenchymal stem cells would be required for real hair loss treatment). Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated...! Thank you so much for your time and effort in advance.
chaz - 16-Dec-16 @ 1:40 PM
My son met and accident and lost his frontal loab. He is 29 years old. On his own he never ask for foodhe himself don't go for urine even can't tell about it. He go outside not knowing whywhere he is going. I am worried what will happen to him after me.Is stemcell technology useful for him.
Ankit - 25-Sep-16 @ 5:36 PM
sir, please give me information that, one of my patient , before 5 years througg an accident he can't walk . Because he is suffering from spinal cord injury. Cervical prob. So many doctors told us that he has no treatment. Only possible if stem cell treatment is available. My question is that in india stem cell treatment is available for spine. If yes then where? And what is the cost? And if no then when government declare this treatment@ within 2015 this stem cell treatment for spine is available.,@ please give me reply through my mail
majoni - 29-Jul-15 @ 7:14 AM
@luana - Currently, stem cells created from those people suffering with a genetic illness cannot be used to help cure the disease due to the fact that those cells would also contain the corrupted genetic code. However, there is progress being made into looking into how patients with a genetic disease can be treated with their own cells. I hope this will happen in your child's lifetime.
DB - 15-Jul-15 @ 10:40 AM
Hi there,I have a 9 month old boy diagnosed with ARX gene mutation which caused structural brain problems,global delay,pancreatic problems,chronic diarrhoea and hard to control seizures;and there's a limited life expectancy.I'm wondering if there's anything that can be done.thank you
luana - 13-Jul-15 @ 3:55 AM
@rj - you may be interested in our partner article Stem Cells to Treat Blindness, link here. Unfortunately, there are currently no specific treatments as studies are still in the research stage. There are still a number of challenges and risks that come with are associated with stem cell treatments, but it does offer future hope for people whose eyesight is badly affected. I hope this helps.
ExploreStemCells - 19-Feb-15 @ 10:29 AM
Hi there, I would like to ask is there any treatment if the patient has lost his vision in one eye due to optic nerve is damaged.
rj - 17-Feb-15 @ 11:32 AM
how far is the stemcell therapy helpful for treating a special child aged 18+ years(suffering from delayed milestones, lack of concentration, behavioural issues, etc.)
RITU - 27-Jan-15 @ 7:26 AM
Do stem cells help with accidents to the brain?
Timmy D. - 8-Aug-14 @ 1:19 AM
Hi there, would you please be able to tell me with the 'Current Stem Cell treatments' involving the bone marrow transplant, if Adult stem cells are used or Embryonic stem cells? As it does not say.
Trash - 16-Mar-14 @ 2:26 AM
I would appreciate it if you could add more about what human tissues have been grown from both embryonic, and adult stem cells.
Elena - 17-Jan-12 @ 6:22 AM
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