Stem cells are cells are undifferentiated cells which can become any specialized
type of cell, such as brain, skin, or muscle cell. They can be found in bone marrow,
adipose tissue in lipid cells, and in the blood. Because of their adaptability, they can
be used to help cure many diseases. There are only a few treatments to this day
which have been completed often but there are many trials currently going on
which look to improve and expand the uses
The most common use for stem cells in medicine is blood stem cell transplantation
to treat blood (i.e sickle cell anemia) and immune system diseases. This is usually
done after treatments for specific cancers, such as certain leukemias or lymphomas,
have been initiated and/or completed. Stem cells are killed during the
chemotherapy treatments and more are put in to the body to replace those which
were destroyed. It is given like a blood transfusion, through the vein. The stem cell
donor is either yourself, someone such as a twin, or a matched donor whether
related or not to you.
Stem cells have also been used to help patients with severe burns on large areas of
the body. But this treatment is very difficult to carry out and is therefore saved for
those with serious life threatening burns. Also, the new skin does not have hair
follicles or sweat glands but research has lead to improvements. It also takes time
for the cells to grow and this can put the patient at risk of dehydration and infection.
Arthritis and other bone and joint pain can be treated by stem cells. The cells are
drawn from fatty tissue from the patient and then put in where it is needed.
There are many, many more possible uses for stem cells that have not yet been
proven to be one hundred percent safe and effective.
Scientists are working on growing human organs and body parts using stem cells. If
this because successful, it will open up many possibilities. There will no longer be a
need for organ donors. If a patient has chronic heart sickness, healthy heart tissue
can be grown and transplanted. Also, if a patient has cancer, the organ can easily
be replaced instead of trying to kill all the cancerous cells.
It may also be possible for stem cells to cure type 1 diabetes. The cells which
produce insulin are destroyed by the immune system but new studies show that it
might be possible to create new insulin producing cells by specializing stem cells.
Doctors and researchers are also looking into trying to use stem cells as a cure for
Parkinson’s disease. The stem cells will become cells which can produce dopamine,
as those with Parkinson’s do not have enough which can lead to things such as
tremors, balance problems, and a lack of facial expressions.
Stem cells have a very high potential in the field of medicine and we have made
great strides in achieving cures for many diseases but many of the treatments
including these cells are not verified yet as being safe, but with more research and
testing, I think we will find good results.