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Stem cell treatments, research, and technology are no longer relegated to sci-fi novels or movies. Research and development of stem cells also go way beyond the use of embryonic stem cell-based therapy, the 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.
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:
At their most basic definition, stem cells can limitlessly divide and can develop into one or several types of the 220 cells found in the human body.
Embryonic stem cell therapy has long been the center of a 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 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 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 the placenta have 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. Stem cell therapy research using 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 cell therapy research, doctors have been studying the beneficial components of stem cells found within the placenta. A process that utilizes stem cells found in the 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.
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:
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
No stem cell 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 the geographic location of treatment facilities and 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 and 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.
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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 rehabilitative injuries, diseases, and terminal illnesses at affordable prices not found in the U.S. Stem cell therapy research is running full steam ahead and will continue well into the 21st century.
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