We already know that stem cells have enormous potential for treating some of the world’s most devastating diseases but fine-tuning these therapies, overcoming challenges and completing many more clinical trials to ensure their efficacy must still be done before these treatments can become a reality.
Drugs Hold a Key
Drugs may be one of many keys to bringing stem cell treatments closer to reality. A new study has found that patients treated with stem cells extracted from their own bodies are more likely to experience success with a specific drug course that releases certain kinds of stem cells from their bone marrow.
This discovery is quite an exciting one because it may trigger the development of new treatments that can quickly repair broken bones or repair tissues at a more rapid rate. Rather than extracting stem cells from a donor, drugs are injected into the patient, which then triggers the production of stem cells.
Immunological rejection would not be an issue because the stem cells are produced within the patient’s own body. It also means that the ethical and moral dilemmas of using embryonic stem cells are avoided. In fact, the procedure is very much compatible with the concept of patient self-healing. It’s a means to coax the human body’s natural healing.
Building on Previous Research
Previous studies had shown that we could trigger stem cells that developed into blood cells but the new research now shows that we can obtain similar results by releasing stem cells that become other tissues. These tissues include bone as well as blood vessels, which allows us to potentially treat more people than we initially thought possible.
But how did researchers accomplish this result simply from drugs? The procedure was a two-part one that first involved administering a natural growth factor for several days. Afterwards, they gave the mice a drug that is known to ‘release’ cells from the bone marrow into the blood. The research shows for the first time that there are different ways to release various kinds of stem cells. More research is underway to identify even better types of stem cells to do repair work in the body.
Generating Excitement and Progress
The scientific community has been quite hopeful about the research because the ability for a researcher to actually be selective in picking the stem cells in a patient for treating a condition could be significant for healing the body’s tissues. Still, the research is only in mice at this stage and while they are useful for suggesting promising results in humans, it’s only a starting point right now.
We would have to conduct extensive testing in humans before even contemplating the research being used in humans. In this way, we could ensure that the treatment is effective and safe. Scientists also want to look at possibly combining procedures by using stem cells to form an organ and then using drugs to give it the necessary blood and blood vessels to survive.
Drugs of the Future
If all goes well, human clinical trials could be happening in the next decade, which may seem far away but in scientific terms, this is major progress. Stem cells continue to hold enormous potential and by using the right drugs, we may be able to harness that potential to provide life-saving treatments to help people who suffer from devastating diseases.