Stem Cell Therapy
You may have heard about stem cell therapy and wondered if this treatment will bring you relief. Stem cell therapy is the term for an advanced treatment to repair injured, diseased, or damaged tissue in your body by injecting stem cells to trigger natural regeneration.
What are stem cells?
A stem cell is a cell from which all other cells with specialized functions are created. Another way to describe stem cells is that they are the raw materials of the body. When under the right conditions. these powerful cells can divide to form more cells called “daughter cells.” These daughter cells behave in different ways:
- Self-renewal—when stem cells become new cells.
- Differentiation—when stem cells become other, specialized cells, like blood, brain, or bone cells.
No other cell in the body other than stem cells has the natural ability to generate new cell types.
Where do stem cells come from?
There are several different sources of stem cells, including:
- Embryonic stem cells: These stem cells come from a 3-5 day-old embryo (called a “blastocyst”), which has approximately 150 cells.
- Adult stem cells: These stem cells are found in smaller numbers in most adult tissues, such as bone marrow or fat.
- Induced pluripotent stem cells: These are harvested from adult tissues and altered to have properties of embryonic stem cells.
- Perinatal stem cells: These stem cells are found in amniotic fluid in the uterus, as well as in umbilical cord blood.
What’s the differencebetween these stem cells?
Each of these stem cells can do different things:
- Embryonic stem cells can divide into more cells, or they can become any specialized type of cell in the body.
- While it was initially thought that adult stem cells could only create similar types of cells, recent research has shown that adult stem cells may be able to create various types of cells.
- Through the use of genetic reprogramming to alter the genes in adult cells, researchers have found a way to reprogram induced pluripotent stem cells so they behave like embryonic stem cells (they can either multiply or become specialized).
- Perinatal stem cells have the ability to change into specialized cells.
While research is ongoing as to the efficacy and long term effects of all forms of stem cells, adult stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, and perinatal stem cells are all currently undergoing more advanced research.