Stem cell therapy: A medicine miracle

Posted by johnallanes on May 16th, 2013

Stem cell therapy, as the name suggests is a therapy for degenerative diseases where fresh stem cells are introduced in the damaged tissue to start up the healing process by the repair and renewal methods. This is an emerging therapy, particularly helpful to those patients who either have serious injuries or have some chronic disease and their bodies are not at all capable to restore the functional tissue. It is an alternate to organ transplant, which comes with its own set of complications and approvals.

The stem cell therapy in India promises to revolutionize the way these degenerative diseases are treated. Stem cell therapy can be used to treat an array of diseases. However, there are different types of stem cells present in the different parts of the body at different times during a lifetime. For example embryonic stem cells are present only at the early stage of fetal development. Stem cells are tissue specific. For example neural stem cells in the brain can only make brain cells and blood forming stem cells in the bone marrow can only make blood. It is highly unlikely that a single stem cell can treat a multitude of diseases. It is very important that the cell type should be specific to the treatment being sought by the patient.

This therapy has been used most extensively to treat blood and immune system related diseases like cancer. A few skin and corneal related diseases or injuries have also been successfully treated with tissue grafting containing stem cells from these specific organs. Such surgeries are accepted and considered to be safe examples of stem cell therapy in India. Stem cell therapy is still in experimental stages and has not yet been approved by the FDA.This therapy is offered only after a detailed analysis of the patient's condition and the advancement of the disease. This therapy has been most successful in bone marrow transplant because the stem cells were required to do just exactly as they normally do i.e. produce blood.

In this treatment the patient bone marrow is killed with chemotherapy and radiation and then a fresh bone marrow is released into the bloodstream. This contains stem cells that are healthy and help to produce healthy blood cells in the patient. New studies also suggest that bone marrow stem cells can be altered to suit transplant into liver and muscle, which will make possible their use beyond just blood. Like all transplants, this also carries the fear of rejection by the recipient body.

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