It is essential to know what stem cells are, as stem cell treatments and research have been hot topics for years and have become more accessible than ever before. To understand what stem cells are, we first need to take a step back and look at what they do and how they work.
What Do Stem Cells Do?
Stem cells are undifferentiated, meaning they have the potential to develop into many different types of cells. There are many different types of stem cells but those from embryos tend to be more adaptable, so they can actually become any type of cell within the body. Embryonic stem cells have been used for research and development in a broad range of studies including vision loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
What Are Embryonic Stem Cells?
Embryonic stem cells come from embryos that are three or five days old. The embryo is small – about the size of a pencil point – and consists only of a few cells which divide rapidly to create new life. In medical terms, embryonic stem cells come from “blastocysts”.
Once mature, these embryonic cells can develop into any cell type within the body. This means they have huge potential to treat a range of diseases and conditions without rejection because they are genetically matched to the patient’s own tissue.
There are other types of stem cells however that come from adults, which are called “adult” or “mature” stem cells. These can be found throughout our bodies – inside bone marrow, blood vessels, brain tissue, the heart, and even the cord that connects you to your mother during pregnancy! Researchers believe that one day we will be able to use these adult/mature stem cells to treat common conditions such as heart disease, blood disorders, and arthritis.
What Are Adult/Mature Stem Cells?
Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells found in adults which can be differentiated into many different types of cells depending on what they need to repair. These adult stem cells play a vital role in the natural repair and regeneration of our bodies, particularly after a physical injury or a disease like cancer where healthy cells have been killed off.
In contrast to embryonic stem cells, however, when an adult stem cell divides it will only ever produce two similar copies of itself – this is known as “self-renewal” and means that the original adult stem cell does not change into another type of cell when dividing. This ability for adult stem cells to continuously renew themselves means they can be used to replace or repair damaged tissue.
How Do Stem Cells Work?
Stem cells are very adaptable and have the potential to develop into many different types of cells depending on what is needed for the body. This unique ability has gotten scientists thinking about possible ways that they could be manipulated into treating conditions where there are not enough healthy cells being produced for treatment, or where other treatments have caused damage that needs repairing.
Any type of cell in our bodies contains specific genes, known as “pluripotency genes”, which control how the cell behaves and divides when it matures. When a pluripotent stem cell becomes a specialized cell (e.g., a muscle cell or blood cell), it is believed that some of the pluripotency genes are turned off while others remain turned on.
While still in its early stages, scientists believe they can take adult stem cells and turn them into embryonic stem cells by turning all the pluripotent genes back on so that the adult stem cells can become immature again and develop into any type of cell within the body once more. Researchers hope this will create an unlimited supply of tissues to treat disease without rejection because they are genetically matched to your own body. However, there is much research yet to be done before this treatment becomes available which makes it too experimental at this time for us to talk about here today.
What Is A Stem Cell Transplant?
A stem cell transplant is where a patient receives blood or bone marrow that has been treated to collect the stem cells inside. The collected cells are placed back into the body intravenously (through a vein) and travel through the body until they reach their new home – usually the patient’s bone marrow.
The collection of these specialized cells for treatment can be done one of two ways: either through an allogeneic transplant, which uses donated stem cells; or through an autologous transplant, where your own undifferentiated cells are removed from your bloodstream before therapy, then reintroduced after therapy to help repair any damage caused during treatment. When the undifferentiated cells that were removed are karyotypically normal (have a normal number of chromosomes), they will not cause a mutation in the patient’s cells once reintroduced, making them safer to use.
In many cases, people who have been diagnosed with blood disorders such as leukemia or lymphoma are candidates for stem cell transplants because their diseased cells can be destroyed using radiation and chemotherapy, then replaced by healthy stem cells to help rebuild the immune system. Stem cells are also becoming popular treatments for some types of cancer which is why more new studies are being done on how adult stem cells may be used to treat diseases.
How Can Adult Stem Cells Be Used To Treat Disease?
Adult stem cell treatment holds great promise for humans since adult stem cells do not need to go through further cell division and can grow to repair injured or damaged tissue. With this in mind, scientists and medical researchers alike want to find ways of manipulating adult stem cells into replacing tissues that need treatment.
Some diseases which may one day be successfully treated with adult stem cells include:
- Heart Disease – Grown heart muscle cells could repair damage caused by heart attacks or be transplanted into hearts that are not beating properly;
- Diabetes – New insulin-producing beta cells (cells in the pancreas that produce insulin) could be created to assist people with diabetes;
- Parkinson’s disease – Derived from skin cells, these new dopamine-making nerve cells may treat symptoms such as tremors and rigidity;
- Alzheimer’s Disease – Could potentially use neural stem cell therapy or transplantation to replace brain cells that have been destroyed by amyloid plaques;
- Multiple Sclerosis – New myelin cells could be used to speed up the transmission of nerve signals in diseased areas of the brain.
Some research groups are already showing they can use adult stem cells for treatment in some diseases. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden, for example, are studying whether mesenchymal stem cells (adult stem cells found in bone marrow and fat tissue) could play a role in treating type 2 diabetes. And they think this is only the beginning when it comes to using adult stem cell therapy in medicine.
What Is The Future Of Adult Stem Cell Therapy?
The future looks very promising when it comes to adult stem cell treatments. New therapies are being developed every day in laboratories throughout the world and, with so much research being done on adult stem cells at the moment, it will only be a matter of time before they become an integral part of modern medicine.
If you would like to find out more about the stem cell therapy offered at American Male Wellness, please call us at (702) 347-7000 or visit our Stem Cell Therapy page.