For so long we have been fascinated by the idea of finding a miracle cure for diseases. We have seen them in movies and television where the body heals itself. Isn’t it wonderful if all this is true? Stem cells and stem cell therapy are some of the medical breakthroughs in recent years. It brings us closer to the idea of regenerative medicine. However, many of these concepts and ideas about stem cells are controversial.
In this article, we will try to deep dive into the concepts behind stem cells and understand why they are important. We are also going to debunk some theories and shed some light on the controversies behind them.
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are primordial cells. They are blank cells that are capable of developing into cells that can serve a specific function in the different parts of our body. You see, most of the cells in our body are differentiated cells. It means they serve a particular purpose to a particular organ. The red blood cells in your body, for example, are specifically designed to carry oxygen.
What makes them vital to the medical industry, is their ability to undergo cell division and replicate an infinite number of exact copies. Other cells in the body are capable of duplicating themselves a set number of times then break down.
When these stem cells multiply, they can turn into differentiated cells or can be engineered to become muscle cells or red blood cells. Because of this characteristic, stem cells hold a lot of promise in helping us understand and treat a range of injuries, diseases, and other health-related conditions.
Stem cell therapy is still in its infancy and not cleared yet by medical authorities. There is so much hype on its current applications and there are some ‘clinics’ who are trying to capitalize on this by selling the treatment to their chronically ill patients.
In this article, we want to help you understand not only the potential but also the limitations of stem cells and how you can spot fake news right away.
Here are some truths about stem cells and stem cell therapy being advertised by various medical clinics.
Few stem cell treatments are proven safe and effective
Currently, the list where stem cell treatments are shown effective is still relatively short. The most extensive use of stem cells is in the treatment of blood and immune system-related disorders. It is widely used to rebuild the blood system after treating certain cancers.
There are also some bone, skin, and eye injuries that can be treated by implanting tissues and the healing process depends on stem cells with the implanted tissues. These are the procedures that are viewed as safe and effective by the medical community.
Different Types of Stem Cells Can Serve Different Functions
Contrary to what you might think, stem cells are not completely blank cells. Scientists are studying the different roles of tissue-specific stem cells that play in healing with the premise that the stem cells have specific and limited capabilities. This is made possible without manipulation in the lab where a tissue-specific stem cell can only replicate the other cell types found in the tissues where they are found.
Same Stem Cell Treatment Can Help With DIfferent Diseases
Since stem cells are specific to certain types of tissues, they cannot make other kinds of cells without intervention from the lab. That means the stem cell treatment made for a certain part of the body will not work on different organs and tissues.
Although scientists have learned how to manipulate a certain stem cell into other organs and tissues using multiple processes, it remains in its developing stage. However, if successful, these cells will have the potential to make different cell types and organs.
Potential of Stem Cell Treatment
Researchers are banking on stem cells to be one day effective in the treatment of many diseases and medical conditions. However, some unproven stem cell treatments remain unsafe, unless you are taking them from an accredited clinic.
The future for stem cell therapy is bright. It may offer a cure-all to many diseases. However, don’t get carried away by the hype. There are unscrupulous treatment providers that offer stem cell products that are not proven effective. You should consider checking the procedures before considering the procedures.
Our advice for people who are considering stem cell therapies is to ask if the treatment has been approved by the FDA. If there is no approval, you can ask them for proof that they are applying the treatment under FDA.
You should also ask questions about things that you do not understand. Make sure that you understand the entire process and know the risks before signing up.