“Cell therapies are rapidly emerging as potentially curative, individualized treatments for many of the world’s most challenging diseases.”-Alain Vertes, Director of the EU section of the Alliance for Regenerative medicine and managing director of NxR Biotechnologies.
Rightly quoted, the importance of the smallest unit, the cell, is phenomenal. Stem cells are the basic category of cells found in humans and animals which have the ability to divide and develop into cells with specific functions.
Stem cells can be considered as the basic raw resource from which other new cells with specific qualities can be generated. Under the right ecosystem in the human body or in a conducive lab environment, stem cells divide into newer cells, also termed daughter cells.
Sources of stem cells
Stem cells are common everywhere in our body, primarily found in our blood, bone marrow, brain, skin, heart, liver tissues and muscles. Stem cells originate from two main sources: adult body tissues and embryos. Generally, these stem cells lie dormant unless and until they are required to regenerate any damaged or lost tissue.
Scientists are also working on ways to develop stem cells from other cells, using genetic “reprogramming” techniques.
Stem cell therapy has numerous applications in the treatment of certain diseases and complex health disorders. There is extensive research being conducted worldwide in leveraging their qualities to regenerate for customization of alternative and effective cures.
- Treatment of Ocular disorders
The inability to complete recovery of visual function and complications that follow in the conventional treatments have shifted the search for a new form of therapy using stem cells. Stem cells play a major role in rebuilding the degenerated cells despite being present in low quantity and their state of dormancy in the body. Unlike other tissues and cells, regeneration of new optic cells responsible for visual function is rarely observed. Understanding the transcription factors and genes responsible for optic cells development will assist scientists in formulating a strategy to activate and direct stem cells renewal and differentiation.
Stem cell-based therapy holds an extraordinary prospective in improving the lives of people who suffer from visual disorders. Research in this area will continue to grow to develop new remedies for treating and preventing the problem of vision loss. It carries a promising future in producing new biological elements used to treat vision loss.
- Stem Cell Therapy Applications in Clinical Research
Advancements in stem cell therapy continue to shed light on how stem cells may be used in various clinical applications, which include cell replacement therapies, immunomodulatory therapies, etc.
- Stem Cell Therapy in Fertility Treatments
Stem cells are now increasingly being tested as promising alternative therapies in translational research of regenerative medicine. Exciting progress has been made to understand the biology and function of stem cells. Looking at the minimum ethical concern with easy availability of resources, extensive research is being conducted.
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells or IPSC and Mesenchymal Stem Cells or MSC are researched for their potential application in reproductive medicine, especially in cases of infertility resulting from azoospermia and premature ovarian insufficiency.
Evolutionary divergence observed in pluripotency among animals and humans requires caution when concluding the data obtained from murine models to safely apply them to clinical applications in humans. More clinical trials based on larger sample people need to be carried out to investigate the relevance of stem cell therapy, including its safety and efficacy, in translational infertility medicine.
- Stem Cells Aiding the Treatment in Cardiovascular Diseases
Blood flow or the blood pressure gets altered due to the scar tissue formation when the heart tissue gets deprived of oxygen. The stem cells obtained from the bone marrow are used for repairing the damaged heart and blood vessels.
- Helping in Orthopedic treatments
Patients experiencing who are experiencing discomfort because of various orthopaedic conditions, sports-related injuries, or spinal issues.
- Control and treatment of auto-immune diseases
For the patients living with conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, application of stem cell therapy for autoimmune diseases is a relatively newer option. In the autoimmune diseases where the immune system attacks its own organs, tissues, and cells, this therapy helps to minimize the downtime that the patients have to deal with and it being minimally invasive. This proves to be a big advantage for patients who do not opt for the surgery.
- Healing complex Incisions and Wounds
Various types of research in stem cell application have successfully led to the regeneration of the local cells, improving the growth of new healthy skin tissues, stimulating new hair development after some odd injuries, and enhancing collagen production. It has contributed to the rapid recovery in its function in substitution of the scar tissue with new healthy tissue.
The Journey Ahead…
The research in stem cell applications is noticed to reach new levels of identifying cures to the otherwise tough options for the current therapies, which is a great relief. Though a lot more needs to be done, we can certainly hope for the fact that stem cell therapy will play an important pivotal role in transforming the recovery and control of multiple health disorders.