Stem Cell Treatments can Regenerate Biological Tissue
Advances in stem cell therapy have made large strides in the past decade; promising to cure paralysis caused by spinal cord injury, to regenerating heart and brain tissue after a heart attack or stroke.
Alzheimer’s disease, paralysis, blindness, cardiovascular disease, and even damaged knee ligaments will soon be a thing of the past. Although stem cells offer tremendous medicinal and therapeutic promise, will they solve some of life’s most pressing problems caused by genetic predispositions and environmental factors?
There seem to be some misconceptions amongst the general public when it comes to the potential therapeutic power of stem cells and the underling methodology by which it is harnessed. Yes, in the near future hospitals and clinics will be able to regenerate damaged tissue ranging from your heart, liver, and kidneys, to muscles, eye and even hair loss. However, it seems that people think stem cells will somehow override their genetic makeup and more importantly somehow rewire their brain to alter their behaviors.
Consider addictions to food, alcohol and nicotine, or other habits that are detrimental to one’s health. Habitual problems will NOT be cured with stem cells, but the damage caused by habitual behavior can be cured. Professional athletes will be able to elongate their careers by repairing their damaged knees, stem cell therapy can even regenerate the liver of an alcoholic, or the heart of a fat man.
Stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they can turn into any other cell in the body. While adults contain stem cells in their bone marrow, these are not universal stem cells. These stem cells can only turn into a small range of other cells. It was believed that the sought after universal stem cell could only be extracted by destroying a fetus. Once researchers realized that there is an abundance of stem cells in a newborns umbilical cord, multiple companies began offering parents the chance to store their baby’s stem cells during birth. They’re known as baby cord blood banks; before the umbilical cord is cut, a syringe is inserted into the cord and a vial of blood containing the stem cells is extracted. This vial is then stored in the refrigerator of a blood bank with the hopes that stem cell technology will soon be able to utilize those cells and help cure any disease the child may develop later in life. Since most of our folks didn’t have any of these technologies to utilize when we were born, then we’re pretty much out of luck, right? NO, lucky for us, in the past couple year’s researchers have developed a new way of turning the skin cell of an adult into the infamous universal stem cell. Researchers are now able to reverse engineer a differentiated cell into the powerful stem cell.
Stem Cell Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neural degenerative disorder that disrupts the various capacities of normal brain function such as, memory, judgment, and communication. In recent studies, stem cells injected into the brains of mice helped to rebuild neural connections and improve cognitive functions. The formation and retrieval of memories as well as exercises using judgment improved. It is important to note that these particular studies explored a consequence of Alzheimer’s, the degenerative loss of synapses (neural connections), and not necessarily cessation of the cause. The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine is developing treatments that utilize stem cells to produce the protein called BDNF (brain derived neurotropic factors) to regenerate neural function. These treatments help reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s.
While a number of stem cell therapeutics exist most are in their infancy. It is anticipated that within the next decade adult and embryonic stem cells will be used to treat cancer, type 1 diabetes, mellitus, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Celiac disease, cardiac failure, muscle damage, and neurological disorders. They can help pretty much help people with brain damage, cancer, spinal cord injury, heart damage, blood cell formation, baldness, missing teeth, deafness, blindness, birth defects, diabetes, would healing and infertility.
The following stem cell treatments are at the forefront and will possibly be the first to be made available to the public
Stem Cell Treatments for Spinal Cord Injury
Almost two years ago the FDA gave clearance to Geron Corp to begin clinical trials with its embryonic stem cell treatment for spinal cord injury. This was the first company in the world to receive clearance to begin clinical trials using embryonic stem cells. The technology was developed in a lab at the University of California, Irvine by Dr. Hans Keirstead. Paralysis caused by spinal cord injury will be a thing of the past soon.
Stem Cell Treatment for Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is a medical condition in which vision is impaired and sometimes completely lost. It typically affects older adults. The second company to receive clearance to begin clinical trials using embryonic stem cells was Advanced Cell Technologies. Their technology uses embryonic stem cells to treat age-related macular degeneration.