Stem Cell Therapy Research and Technology
Stem cell treatments, research and technology are no longer relegated to sci-fi novels or movies. Research and development of stem cells also goes way beyond the use of embryonic stem cell based therapy, potential of cloning human beings and the moral and ethical controversies surrounding such developments. Today, stem cell research offers potential treatments for the future that may cure many disease processes, enable people with spinal cord injuries to walk again, and perhaps even see an end to cognitive impairment diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease.
Brief Overview of Stem Cell Therapy Research
To date, scientific research into stem cells has identified multiple types of stem cells and sources. The most commonly studied, and used, stem cell based therapy developments today involve the use of:
Embryonic stem cell therapy
Adult stem cell therapy and research
Umbilical cord stem cell therapy
At their most basic definition, stem cells have the ability to limitlessly divide and are capable of developing into one or several different types of the 220 cells found in the human body.
Embryonic stem cell therapy has long been the center of controversy regarding their moral and ethical use, not only in the United States, but also around the world. These cells are taken from early stage embryos, many from aborted fetuses. Because of such controversy, scientists spent decades studying other ways to develop stem cells that would offer more appeal and less controversy.
Adult stem cell therapy is commonly used today in a wide range of human stem cell therapy and treatments. This type of stem cell is taken from bone marrow. Adult stem cells can be "instructed" to form a certain type of cell – such as nerve cells, cardiac cells, skin cells, muscle cells and so forth. Because these cells are found in the skin, blood and bone marrow, they do not carry the stigma that embryonic stem cells do. Scientists are currently looking for ways to replace damaged cells that lead to a multitude of disease processes, such as diabetes, Parkinson's, and cancer. As such, stem cell replacement therapy is undergoing extensive research and development.
Umbilical cord stem cell therapy is utilized through the blood of umbilical cords after they and the rest of the afterbirth of placenta has been expelled from the body after a baby is born. As a rich source of stem cells, many parents today are "banking" their children's umbilical cord cells in case they are needed for curing disease in the future. Stem cell therapy research utilizing umbilical cord blood stem cell therapy is making huge advancements today.
Because umbilical and adult stem cells may be collected from any given individual, the risks of rejection of organs or treatments developed with such sources are drastically reduced. This makes it possible to benefit from transplants and other procedures where rejection has commonly been an issue.
Placenta Stem Cell Therapy – A fairly recent development in stem cells therapy research, doctors have been studying the beneficial components of stem cells found within the placenta. A process that utilizes stem cells found in placenta afterbirth is considered ethical, as it does not involve any interaction with a fetus or newborn. The afterbirth, heretofore discarded after birth, is now being studied for its multipotent stem cells in the search for treatments of multiple illnesses and disease processes.
Who benefits from Stem Cells Therapy Treatments?
Stem cell technologies and advancements are being made on an almost daily basis. From Japan to China to the U.S. to Europe, Africa and Russia, the world's scientists and medical experts have been studying, and using, stem cells treatments and stem cell therapy to treat a wide range of illnesses, injuries and disease processes, including but not limited to:
Neurological diseases such as:
Blood-borne Cancers such as:
Organ Cancers such as:
Heart Disease processes such as:
Congestive Heart Failure
Musculoskeletal Conditions and Injuries such as:
Spinal cord injury
Bone damage caused by injuries and disease
Joint injuries and diseases
Hormonal, Immune and Circulatory Issues
Auto-Immune diseases such as Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Muscular Dystrophy
Chronic infections such as Tuberculosis and Hepatitis C
Cosmetic and Reconstruction Treatments
Breast reconstruction treatments
Medical Stem Cell Tourism
Currently, no stem cells therapy options are available in the U.S., which prompts many Americans to venture to international destinations for them. The potential cost of stem cell therapies in the U.S. may be prohibitively expensive, which encourages those hoping and seeking cures for illnesses, injuries and disease processes to travel to China, Thailand, Japan, Europe, and India, among others.
The cost of therapies is determined according to geographic location of treatment facilities as well as the injury, illness or disease being treated. Because such treatments have not yet been approved in the U.S., medical travelers are cautioned to do their homework and study human stem cell therapy, treatments and protocols and examine the history as well as case studies in foreign destinations. To date, the U.S. has approved funding for Phase I clinical trials of some types of stem cell therapies that may provide productive and beneficial use in the near future.
How Do I Select a Stem Cell Provider?
Ask questions – such as:
Can you offer proof that these stem cell therapy treatments work?
Can I speak with former patients who have undergone such therapies?
Who are (and what are the credentials) of the physician or surgeon administering stem cell therapies or treatments?
How long has the organization offered such treatments?
How safe is the treatment? Are there risks involved?
The Future of Stem Cells Therapy
According to the recent gathering of the World Stem Cell Summit in Madison, Wisconsin in September 2008, growing numbers of individuals seeking alternative or advanced forms of medical treatment, including stem cell therapies, travel to foreign destinations every year. According to their reports, such numbers are on the verge of ‘exploding’ as individuals seek safe and effective treatments for dehabilitative injuries, diseases and terminal illnesses at affordable prices not currently found in the U.S. Stem cell therapy research is running full steam ahead, and will continue well into the 21st century.