Stem cell therapy consists of using stem cells to treat or prevent a disease or condition. The most widely used stem-cell therapy is bone marrow transplant but other stem cell therapies are in use. While there are still many discoveries to be made surrounding the nature of stem cells, their use and application have provided many patients with the relief they're looking for. Let's break down what stem cells are and what they can do:
Considered the foundation for every organ/tissue in your body, stem cells can self-renew and differentiate (develop into more specialized cells), making them perfect for regenerative therapy. Different types of cells can do different things, each dependent on the circumstances. Stem cells are often categorized into two classifications: adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells, though there are a number of sub-classifications.
Embryonic stem cells are formed during the earliest stages of development and then cease to exist. Embryonic cells are provided by the blastocyst. The blastocyst is one of the earliest stages of development for an embryo, consisting of a mostly-hollow ball that is barely visible to the naked eye. These cells are extracted during the earliest stages of embryonic development, usually from invitro fertilization samples that are no longer needed.
Adult stem cells appear during our early stages of development and stay with us throughout our lives. They are specific to the organs or tissues they live in, meaning they aren't as easily differentiated and have limitations to the types of cells they can provide.
Application of Stem Cells in Therapy:
Adult stem cells are used to treat diseases of the blood, including leukemia. They are also used for tissue grafts to treat injuries to the bone, skin and eyes.
Embryonic stem cells are used to conduct research surrounding existing conditions and diseases. The value of embryonic stem cells is incredible, considering they provide a renewable resource for studying development and disease. They are easily differentiated and allow scientists to see how they change the fundamental nature of the embryo as development continues.
Research indicates that almost half of the world's population suffers from chronic pain in some capacity. The field of scientific research hopes to make discoveries using regenerative stem cell therapy that can cure cancer, help hearts repair themselves after a heart attack, and so much more. Specifically, the field of modern neurosurgery hopes that utilizing stem cell therapy could mean the end of chronic spine issues and pain for millions of people.