What Are Stem Cells?
Learn All There Is About Stem Cells and Stem Cell Treatment
You have probably heard about stem cells in the media regarding their health benefits and applications. It’s true – stem cells provide a viable option for treating disease and injury. Innovative research is continuously pushing their usage forward, and more people are beginning to lean on them to find different treatment options. HGH Vallarta Clinic put this page together to explain stem cells and provide helpful information on what they do, their importance, and more.
Stem Cells 101
What are stem cells? Stem cells are the body’s raw materials. In other words, they are the cells from which all other cells are generated. They have a unique ability to renew themselves, making them an infinite source of potentially regenerative materials that can help fight against diseases and restore lost tissue.
Different Types of Stem Cells
There are two main types of stem cells. The pluripotent category includes embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. The other category is commonly referred to as “adult” stem cells, which consist of nonembryonic or somatic stem cells.
Pluripotent cells can be divided into more stem cells, becoming any type of cell found in the body. These types of stem cells are quite versatile, allowing them to be used to help with the regeneration or repair of diseased tissue and organs.
Adult stem cells are found in adult tissues like bone marrow and fat. They are often found in small numbers and have more limited applications compared to embryonic stem cells. Traditionally, these types of stem cells were thought to only be able to produce similar cells. In other words, bone marrow stem cells were thought to only be able to create blood cells. Newer research indicates that these adult stem cells can give rise to other cell types like bone or heart muscle cells.
Other Types of Stem Cells
Scientists have developed ways of converting regular adult cells into stem cells with genetic reprogramming. Through this reprogramming, researchers can convert adult cells to behave similarly to embryonic stem cells. Research is still developing on these altered cells, meaning there is still a way to go before fully using them. Researchers must first verify the potential for harmful effects on humans.
There are also perinatal stem cells contained within amniotic fluid and umbilical cord blood. These types of cells can also change into specialized cells, opening another door for potential application to other areas.
Why Are Stem Cells Important?
First and foremost, stem cells are important for the work they do in building and maintaining your body. Without them, your body would not function as it normally should. Outside of their usage as building blocks, they are crucial in medical research in finding ways to use them to help fight disease.
Researchers study stem cells to learn more about how diseases occur. Stem cells are grown in various tissues and organs, allowing researchers to examine them as they grow and change. Researchers are also studying stem cells to find more applications for treating damage or disease in various parts of the body. This research can help people turn the tide on what would normally be considered an inoperable issue.
Another helpful use of stem cells involves testing new treatments and medications. Specialized stem cells are prepared for medication testing. This helps determine the safety of the medication and its effectiveness before giving it to people in clinical trials.
What Do Stem Cells Do?
Stem cells continuously renew and divide themselves, creating exact replicas that can be used in other parts of the body for various regenerative functions. Normal cells can multiply and divide, but they do not have the same lifespan as stem cells. They are also the only type of cells that create specialized cells with the potential to repair or replenish certain cell types.
The Potential of Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy has the potential to unlock a new way of repairing damaged or diseased organs within the body. They open the door to new treatments that were otherwise not possible. They also pave a new way for organ transplantation, relying on cells instead of donor organs. The fall in donor organ supply is a glaring issue in the medical field, so stem cell therapy is an innovative way to counter this. Stem cells undoubtedly offer lots of potential to treat multiple harmful diseases and to repair damaged or lost tissue – whether from injury or aging.
Benefits and Risks of Stem Cell Therapy Benefits:
- Reduce Pain: stem cells work to provide pain relief and reduce the inflammation associated with the pain
- Reduce Post-Operation Recovery: Recovery often takes much longer than the actual procedure. With stem cells, recovery time is minimal and patients can get back to their lives faster
- Improves Functionality, Range of Motion, and Flexibility: Stem cells help restore an injured muscle to the way it was before the injury at a much faster rate
- Potential for Reverse Injury: Stem cells can help damaged tissue potentially regrow, alleviating pain and frustration sustained from serious injuries
- Potential for administered cells to move away from placement sites and change into inappropriate cells and multiply
- Risk for cells to not work as expected
- Potential growth of tumors
- Reaction at the site of stem cell administration
- Ethical controversy surrounding the sourcing of stem cells
What Does the Future Hold for Stem Cell Research & Therapy?
This is a difficult question to answer, but there are strong indications that the future of stem cell research and therapy is promising. There have been remarkable advancements in bone marrow transplants, cardiac tissue regeneration, liver cell regeneration, disease treatment, and more. Researchers will continue to study different applications for stem cells in the hope of finding new treatments. Research findings are publicly available to the scientific community, bridging the knowledge gap and encouraging international collaboration. With more research, there is greater potential for better disease modeling, drug development, and tissue engineering. The future of stem cells is bright.