Regenerative medicine is a fairly new branch of medicine that aims to restore organ and tissue function for patients with serious injuries or chronic disease. A key component of regenerative medicine is stem cell therapy — because stem cells can be used to regenerate and repair tissue.
Stem cells have the power to deliver many benefits to those who undergo stem cell therapy. This type of regenerative medicine can help individuals who suffer from disease and other afflictions. And more research is conducted daily to explore other applications of stem cell therapy.
Read on to learn more about stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine, as well as the ways it can help patients make full recoveries.
Stem Cell Therapy Explained
What is stem cell therapy?
First, what is a stem cell? A stem cell is a single cell within a multicellular organism. Stem cells can generate an indefinite number of cells of the same type, and these cells can differentiate into another kind of cell.
Stem cell therapy takes advantage of the regenerative properties of stem cells. A set of techniques helps stem cells to replace damaged or destroyed cells with healthy, fully functional ones.
In order to start this process, researchers grow stem cells in a lab, manipulating them to become specific types of cells. For use in stem cell therapy, these cells may become heart muscle cells, blood cells, or nerve cells. Once the cells are specialized, they can be injected into a person to start the healing process.
What types of stem cell therapies are currently being researched?
Though regenerative medicine is a fairly new area of exploration, there are several types of stem cell therapies that have been researched and utilized in some way:
- Adult stem cell transplants using bone marrow stem cells
- Adult stem cell transplants using peripheral stem cells
- Stem cell transplants using umbilical cord blood
- Therapeutic cloning
What are the benefits of stem cell therapy?
Stem cells can be used to create functional tissues and organs that can replace systems damaged due to age, disease, and congenital defects. When these new cells are utilized in place of nonfunctional ones, it can promote healing and slow down or halt the effects of disease.
Recorded areas of success using stem cells for healing include:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Spinal cord and other injuries
- Skin cells for burn victims
Research and exploration will continue in the coming years to determine new possibilities for stem cells and stem cell therapy.
What are the challenges associated with stem cell therapy?
The initial challenge of the stem cell therapy process is identifying and isolating the stem cells. Once the stem cell is identified and harnessed, making it grow and transform into the desired cell type for the patient is another challenge.
Even once the stem cell has taken on its designated role, implantation into the receiving patient presents yet another challenge. These new cells must learn how to function alongside the already existing cells and tissues. If the therapy works, the new stem cells will remain free of genetic defects and continue creating healthy cells that work correctly in the patient’s body.
If a person’s immune system works against the new cells, or if the new tissue system does not work with the other existing tissues, the stem cell therapy will be ineffective and potentially harmful. Those interested in stem cell therapy should do plenty of research and be aware of risks before electing to participate in the treatment.
Continued Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research
Stem cells are being manipulated and utilized to promote recovery in individuals with disease. Though doctors and researchers have seen much success with this method of treatment, there is still much to be learned about the potential of stem cells in assisting healing for various diseases and conditions.
If you’d like to learn more about stem cell therapy or how the treatment plan works at Neck and Back Medical Center, our team would be more than happy to answer your questions and walk you through the process. We are always available to assist clients and explain all of our treatment options at our Laguna Hills clinic.