What is Stem Cell Therapy?

With modern-day medicine, there are endless possibilities for treatment and care. From breakthroughs in cancer research to finding treatments for once-thought incurable diseases. These new techniques are making it possible for people to live longer, healthier lives, despite past health or familial history. One of these innovative movements in medicine is stem cell therapy. So what is stem cell therapy? To understand this new therapy, it’s important to know what stem cells are and how they function within the body.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are the “raw materials” of the human body. They generate cells that have specialized functions in the body, like skeletal tissue, fat, and muscle. In a human, stem cells separate to create daughter cells. So though stem cells are undifferentiated originally, they can be used to function as specific cells in other parts of the body in order to maintain normal bodily functions. This process can be replicated in a laboratory and can be used to create vital cells for those suffering from diseases.

Stem cells originate from one of two sources: Embryos and adult body tissue. With embryos, four to five days after the sperm fertilizes an egg, a blastocyst or ball of cells forms. From this stage onwards, the embryo creates stem cells. Likewise, adult bodies contain stem cells in tissue for the duration of a person’s life. These cells can be pulled and used by the body in times of need.

To be more specific, mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) originate from the body’s connective tissue, surrounding organs and other tissues. Scientists can use this type of stem cells from adult tissue to create fat cells, cartilage, and bones. Scientists have also been able to create stem cells from skin and other tissue cells in a lab, though, the most durable and malleable stem cells based on research are embryonic.

What’s stem cell therapy?

Stem cell therapy is regenerative medicine that seeks to use stem cells in order to replenish affected cells in the body. Affected cells are often either deceased, injured, or not functioning properly. Since stem cells are malleable and can be placed in the role of more specific cells, scientists can use it to ensure the entire body’s overall function. Researchers will grow and change these cells in a lab before putting them into the human body. Doctors are already using these type of therapy to implant altered stem cells into patients, such as individuals with heart disease.

The power of stem cell research

Stem cell therapy is a powerful method of ensuring normal bodily functions even after injury or disease. And though stem cell research is still highly contested in some regards, the limits to its potential use are endless. Since stem cells can be used to replace damaged cells, there’s a chance that stem cells can be used to replenish cells in the case of any injury or disease. Stem cells could provide breakthrough research for any disease. One University of Buffalo professor, Natesh Parashurama, said that stem cell research stands to “change medicine forever.”

Practice precaution

Trying new, experimental types of medicine can be easier to get involved in than you might think. Though there are mailing lists for innovative new developments in medicine, the best way to seek out this therapy is to talk to your doctor. Not only will they know how stem cell therapy treatment could positively and negatively impact your condition, but they’ll also be able to give you options on what types of stem cells you could work with and which local physicians can work with you. It’s also advisable to get a second opinion prior to working with stem cells, as this may help you determine the best course of action and save you from having to consult with a  medical malpractice attorney down the line, in the event that the medical advice given to you was inaccurate. 

Stem cell therapy, though new, is not off limits to you. Check with your doctor about how you can pursue it and improve your own health.