Stem-cell therapy may be defined as the use of stem cells to treat or prevent a disease condition. Stem cells and their potentials have been discussed in a recent publication on this platform. Bone marrow transplant is the most widely used stem cell therapy and has being in use since the 1960’s.
According to Biehl et. al. (2014), pluripotent stem cells have not been used therapeutically in humans. This is because many of the early animal studies resulted in the undesirable formation of unusual solid tumours called teratomas. However, multipotent stem cells harvested from bone marrow have been used for almost five decades to treat leukaemia, myeloma and lymphoma. Recently, some progress has been reported in the use of cells derived from bone marrow to treat other diseases. For example, the ability to form whole joints in mouse models (Alhadlaq and Mao, 2005) has been achieved starting with mesenchymal stem cells that give rise to bone and cartilage. In the near future multipotent stem cells are likely to benefit many other diseases and clinical conditions. Also, bone marrow-derived stem cells are in clinical trials to remedy heart ailments
Stem cells are usually taken from one of two areas in the patient’s body: bone marrow or adipose (fat) tissue in their upper thigh/abdomen. Because it’s common to remove stem cells from areas of stored body fat, some refer to stem cell therapy as “Adipose Stem Cell Therapy” in some cases (Dr. Axe.com).
Once stem cells are removed from one of these locations, they are spun at great speed in a centrifuge machine so that substances that are most valuable (including up to seven different types of natural growth factors) are separated. The sample of concentrated stem cells is then injected directly into the patient’s affected, painful area− allowing the cells’ growth factors to go to work immediately, building new skin cells, connective tissue and so on.
According to stem-cells.in, stem cell therapy is currently being applied in the following areas:
- Non-union/Delayed Union Fracture
- Osteonecrosis or Avascular Necrosis (AVN)
- Knee Cartilage Defect
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
- Spinal cord injury
- Spinal Fusion Treatment
- Cerebral Palsy
- Motor Neuron Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Optic nerve damage
- Retinitis pigmentosa
- Macular degeneration
- Diabetes (Types 1 and 2)
- Acute/Chronic Liver Disease
- Acute/Chronic Kidney Disease
- Peripheral Arterial Disease
- Coronary Arterial Disease
Benefits of stem cell therapy
- It can treat orthopaedic injuries
- It can also be applied in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases
- It accelerates healing of wounds
- Neurogenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s diseases can also be treated with stem cell therapy
Possible side effects of stem cell treatment
Side effects of stem cell therapy include:
- Swelling or redness at the site of injection which normally disappear within 1–2 days
- Intensity of pain or stiffness in the affected area may increase but only for a short period of time
- Rare signs of an allergic reaction
- Although very rarely, cases of spinal fluid leaks and permanent nerve damage have also been reported
Biehl JK. and Russell B., 2014. Introduction to Stem Cell Therapy. J Cardiovasc Nurs. 24(2): 98–105.
Alhadlaq A, Mao JJ. Tissue-engineered osteochondral constructs in the shape of an articular condyle. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2005;87(5):936–44.
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