Originally published on JerryShiveley.com
The title “stem cells” can be categorized as an umbrella term that defines cells with the ability to create other types of cells throughout the human body. These amazing organisms can repair themselves, as well as develop practically any part of the body, both internally and externally. When applied to older individuals, adult stem cell therapy can be incredibly beneficial in treating a range of diseases.
While this form of treatment comes with some controversy, there is no denying the remarkable benefits that come with adult stem cell therapy. Originally used as a way to treat disease of the immune system, stem cells first saw success in the late 1990’s. The therapy was first applied to patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and even heart disease, seeing a surprising amount of achievement in little time.
A great deal of the controversy surrounding the use of stem cells is due to the fact that some are harvested from embryos just a few days after they are fertilized, though other sources include blood and bone marrow; these are often much easier to harvest. Stem cells derived from embryos possess the ability to divide thousands of times due to their youthfulness, and can be applied to several parts of the human body. Adult stem cells on the other hand, are fully developed, and are thus unable to benefit other parts of the body that they haven’t already created. However, these cells can essentially travel throughout organs and tissue.
Cell-based therapies have the potential of repairing, and even replacing damaged or diseased tissue or organs, which is why many medical researchers today are expressing their excitement for this field of study. Stem cells from bone marrow, for example, have been shown to effectively treat different types of leukemia because of their ability to replace white blood cells. After undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, an individual suffering from leukemia will have a significantly lower white cell count, which must be made up over time. Stem cells taken from bone marrow have the potential of cutting this time in half.
According to many scientists, some of the main factors holding back research in this field are the political, ethical, and religious concerns that come with obtaining stem cells and the tests used to judge their efficiency. In the past, animals that have undergone these tests have reacted negatively, painting a poor image on the field as a whole. However, numerous patients suffering from heart disease have seen regular improvement after receiving stem cell injections. Those with Parkinson’s Disease, brain injuries, and diabetes are currently able to undergo adult stem cell therapy, and successes have been recorded on nearly all fronts.
While research is still being done on this exciting and slightly unknown area of medicine, adult stem cell therapy has shown incredible promise in the treatment of a variety of diseases. Miracle cases have been observed all over the world so far. But, like every other form of treatment, there are risks that exist when undergoing this therapy, such as the possibility that these cells will develop into the wrong types of cells, and contribute to genetic damage.
Adult stem cell therapy certainly holds the key for future treatment of diseases, but the medical field has a long way to go before it is considered standard procedure. The FDA discourages this therapy outside of clinical trials until it has been proven that there are much more benefits than risks in the near future. If you yourself are considering undergoing stem cell therapy, talk to your doctor beforehand to receive all the necessary information needed in ensuring it is right for you. There are a large number of stem cell clinics throughout the United States that offer treatments which have never been vetted, and visiting these is an unnecessary risk that you should avoid at all costs.