Stem Cell Treatment Shows Promise
but there are Risks

Stem cell treatment has shown remarkable success for a variety of different conditions, including the treatment of back pain. Neurological disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, blindness and impaired vision, growing new muscle tissue for your heart, and are reversing degenerative disc disease are just a few of the examples.

Scientists around the world are developing many different techniques that can coax stem cells into transforming into many different types of specialized tissue for different parts of your body.


  

  

  

  

  

What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are special cells that are found in all animals. These are the basic building block cells that can transform themselves into this specialized cells necessary for different structures and organ systems within your body. 

These cells may develop into skin cells, or liver tissue, or any of the other cellular systems that you have. Stem cells are also capable of dividing themselves to create more stem cells.In mammals there are two types of stem cells, embryonic stem cells, and adult stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells are found in embryos and they differentiate or change into the many different organ systems necessary for development as the embryo grows into a fetus, and the fetus grows into an adult.

Adult stem cells are found in adult mammals and they differentiate or change into specialized cells for repair and replacement of the various adult tissues.

Where do We get Stem Cells?

Adult stem cells can be harvested from:

• Bone Marrow by drilling into the bone.

•Adipose or fat tissue with liposuction

•Blood drawn from your vein


  


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How does Stem Cell Treatment Work?

Stem cell treatment is focused on encouraging stem cells to differentiate into different types of tissue. This requires different techniques depending on the tissue they are trying to develop.

Degenerative Disc Disease

A major cause of back pain is degenerative disc disease. A recent review of six different studies was published in Science Daily and stem cell treatments showed very promising results.

All six of the studies using animal models showed increased disc height following treatment with stem cells. Loss of disc height is a hallmark of degenerative disc disease, and increasing the disc height indicates a reversal of the degenerative process.

Even if these studies use the animal models it is still very exciting news for people suffering with back pain from degenerative discs.

Stroke Patients 

In a small clinical trial in Scotland stem cells were injected into the brain of stroke victims led to improvements in strength and balance with improve mobility and daily function.

Heart Disease 

Bone marrow stem cell injected intravenously have been shown to migrate to damaged heart muscle following a heart attack. After entering the injured area these cells begin to transform into cardiac cells to repair the damaged area and increase heart muscle size.

Blindness 

Corneal stem cells transplanted into damaged eyes can successfully restore vision.

Diabetes 

Embryonic stem cells can be grown in a culture and stimulating to develop into insulin producing cells that can be transplanted into diabetic patients.

More Work Needs to be Done

Stem cell research is a very exciting area and it seems that new things are being discovered almost daily. It seems that the ability to grow new organs may eventually lead to people living much much longer as well as the ability to cure chronic diseases.

The future will be very interesting.

Stem cell treatment has the potential for many life changing benefits for many people. Using stem cells to grow new organs in the laboratory, or transplanting stem cells that can repair damaged tissue, may possibly cure many diseases and lengthen the lives of many people.

But There are Risks

•Rejection by Your Immune System

•Graft vs. Host disease

•Organ Damage

•New Cancers

•Infections

•Death

Your Immune System

Any time that a foreign substance is injected or transplanted into your body it activates your immune system. Antibodies, white blood cells, and other specialized cells will attack the invader.

This is treated with specialized drugs that suppress your immune system. Unfortunately, suppressing your immunity makes you susceptible to many different infections and diseases that your immune system normally protects you from.

Graft vs. Host disease

Other problems can occur when the immune system of the transplanted tissue attacks the host. This can occur when implanted stem cells attack your body.

This can cause a wide variety of symptoms that may be mild or severe. There may be a rash if the reaction affects your skin. There may be nausea and vomiting with mouth sores and diarrhea if it affects your digestive tract, and there may be blocked airways if it affects your lungs.

These reactions can be life threatening or lead to chronic pain and disability.

Organ Damage

When implanted stem cells do not develop correctly or develop into the wrong type of tissue it may further damage an organ that is already injured causing further impairment.

New Cancers

Exactly how and why stem cells transform into different specific tissues is not well understood. There may be chemical signals or other signals from the surrounding tissue that stimulate the transformation.

However, when the transformation begins it is very difficult to control and these cells may transform into undesirable tissues such as cancers at that location or they may migrate to other areas of your body where they may develop into unwanted tissues or structures.

With all Treatments There are Benefits and There are Risks

Stem cell treatments may one day cure chronic pain and disability and extend our current life span. Scientists are working to minimize the risks and develop techniques to understand and control this amazing transformation.

Developments in the coming years will be exciting to watch.


  


  

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