Stem cell therapy is an intervention strategy that introduces new adult stem cells into damaged tissue in order to treat disease or injury. Many medical researchers believe that stem cell treatments have the potential to change the face of human disease and alleviate suffering.The ability of stem cells to self-renew and give rise to subsequent generations with variable degrees of differentiation capacities, offers significant potential for generation of tissues that can potentially replace diseased and damaged areas in the body, with minimal risk of rejection and side effects.
Stem cell technology gives hope of effective treatment for a variety of malignant and non-malignant diseases through the rapid developing field that combines the efforts of cell biologists, geneticists and clinicians. Stem cells are defined as totipotent progenitor cells capable of self-renewal and multi-lineage differentiation. Stem cells survive well and show steady division in culture which then causes them the ideal targets for vitro manipulation. Research into solid tissue stem cells has not made the same progress as haematopoietic stem cells because of the difficulty of reproducing the necessary and precise 3D arrangements and tight cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions that exist in solid organs.
A team of Korean researchers reported on November 25, 2003, that they had transplanted multipotent adult stem cells from umbilical cord blood to a patient suffering from a spinal-cord injury and that following the procedure, she could walk on her own without difficulty. The patient had not been able to stand up for roughly 19 years. For the unprecedented clinical test, the scientists isolated adult stem cells from umbilical cord blood and then injected them into the damaged part of the spinal cord.
The pioneering work by Bodo-Eckehard Strauer, has now been discredited by the identification of hundreds of factual contradictions. Among several clinical trials that have reported that adult stem cell therapy is safe and effective, powerful effects have been reported from only a few laboratories, but this has covered old and recent infarcts as well as heart failure not arising from myocardial infarction. While initial animal studies demonstrated remarkable therapeutic effects.
Stem cell therapy for treatment of myocardial infarction usually makes use of autologous bone marrow stem cells (a specific type or all), however other types of adult stem cells may be used, such as adipose-derived stem cells. Adult stem cell therapy for treating heart disease was commercially available in at least five continents as of 2007.
Possible mechanisms of recovery include:
The specificity of the human immune-cell repertoire is what allows the human body to defend itself from rapidly adapting antigens. However, the immune system is vulnerable to degradation upon the pathogenesis of disease, and because of the critical role that it plays in overall defense, its degradation is often fatal to the organism as a whole. Diseases of hematopoietic cells are diagnosed and classified via a subspecialty of pathology known as hematopathology. The specificity of the immune cells is what allows recognition of foreign antigens, causing further challenges in the treatment of immune disease. Identical matches between donor and recipient must be made for successful transplantation treatments, but matches are uncommon, even between first-degree relatives. Research using both hematopoietic adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells has provided insight into the possible mechanisms and methods of treatment for many of these ailments.
Fully mature human red blood cells may be generated ex vivo by hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which are precursors of red blood cells. In this process, HSCs are grown together with stromal cells, creating an environment that mimics the conditions of bone marrow, the natural site of red-blood-cell growth. Erythropoietin, a growth factor, is added, coaxing the stem cells to complete terminal differentiation into red blood cells. Further research into this technique should have potential benefits to gene therapy, blood transfusion, and topical medicine."
Hair follicles also contain stem cells, and some researchers predict research on these follicle stem cells may lead to successes in treating baldness through an activation of the stem cells progenitor cells. This treatment is expected to work by activating already existing stem cells on the scalp. Later treatments may be able to simply signal follicle stem cells to give off chemical signals to nearby follicle cells which have shrunk during the aging process, which in turn respond to these signals by regenerating and once again making healthy hair. Most recently, Dr. Aeron Potter of the University of California has claimed that stem cell therapy led to a significant and visible improvement in follicular hair growth. Results from his experiments are under review by the journal Science.
Heller has reported success in re-growing cochlea hair cells with the use of embryonic stem cells.
In 2004, scientists at King's College London discovered a way to cultivate a complete tooth in mice and were able to grow them stand-alone in the laboratory. Researchers are confident that this technology can be used to grow live teeth in human patients.
In theory, stem cells taken from the patient could be coaxed in the lab into turning into a tooth bud which, when implanted in the gums, will give rise to a new tooth, and would be expected to grow within two months. It will fuse with the jawbone and release chemicals that encourage nerves and blood vessels to connect with it. The process is similar to what happens when humans grow their original adult teeth. Many challenges remain, however, before stem cells could be a choice for the replacement of missing teeth in the future"
Stem cells can also be used to stimulate the growth of human tissues. In an adult, wounded tissue is most often replaced by scar tissue, which is characterized in the skin by disorganized collagen structure, loss of hair follicles and irregular vascular structure. In the case of wounded fetal tissue, however, wounded tissue is replaced with normal tissue through the activity of stem cells. A possible method for tissue regeneration in adults is to place adult stem cell "seeds" inside a tissue bed "soil" in a wound bed and allow the stem cells to stimulate differentiation in the tissue bed cells. This method elicits a regenerative response more similar to fetal wound-healing than adult scar tissue formation. Researchers are still investigating different aspects of the "soil" tissue that are conducive to regeneration.
Culture of human embryonic stem cells in mitotically inactivated porcine ovarian fibroblasts (POF) causes differentiation into germ cells (precursor cells of oocytes and spermatozoa), as evidenced by gene expression analysis.
Human embryonic stem cells have been stimulated to form Spermatozoon-like cells, yet still slightly damaged or malformed. It could potentially treat azoospermia.
In 2012, oogonial stem cells were isolated from adult mouse and human ovaries and demonstrated to be capable of forming mature oocytes. These cells have the potential to treat infertility".
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