30 Nov What Diseases Can Be Treated By Stem Cells
What diseases can be treated by stem cells?
For years we have heard about the promise of stem cells. That they will revolutionize medicine and change the face of healthcare forever. For many years, that promise wasn’t realized. There were very little actual treatments that were based on stem cell technology and science and little evidence. That landscape is slowly beginning to shift. Now, specialist clinics across the United States are beginning to offer the first stem cell therapies that can treat and potentially cure a whole host of diseases. But what are stem cells, why do they hold so much promise, and what can they treat today?
What are stem cells?
Think of stem cells like children. They are young, immature and have not fully developed. But with the right guidance, almost all children can grow up to be whatever they want to be. The same goes for stem cells. Stem cells, with the right guidance, can grow into a whole host of different specialized cell types. So the idea behind many of the current therapies is simple. If we have dead or damaged tissue that will not regenerate why not inject the body’s own stem cells (say from the bone marrow) into the affected place to allow regeneration to take place. But what different diseases can stem cells be used for?
There is mounting evidence that stem cell therapy can help people with autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune disease is defined as diseases in which a person’s own immune system turns on them and begins to attack the body. Examples of these diseases include polymyositis, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis. The exact mechanism by which this occurs is not known, as it is not as simple as regenerating damaged tissue. However, there are a number of centers working to treat the following diseases with stem cells
- Polymyositis (an autoimmune condition similar to dermatomyositis where there is an autoimmune destruction of the muscles)
- Multiple Sclerosis (whereby there is an autoimmune destruction of the sheath protecting and helping feed the nerve cells of the brain)
MSK diseases such as osteoarthritis are a good target for these stem cells as the worn down cartilage can (theoretically) be regenerated or at least halted from degenerating any more. Currently, stem cell clinics offer the service for patients with:
- Arthritis of the spinal column (facet joints. This typically affects the joints at the lower back or neck).
- Sacroiliac joint arthritis (this is arthritis of your lower back, just where the bony bits of your pelvis are felt).
- Arthritis in other joints such as
- Small joints of the hand
If you or somebody you know is suffering from a condition that is currently left untreated or inadequately treated by current medication then it may be worth coming to speak to one of the specialists at a stem cell center. Whilst studies are still ongoing, the promise is real and huge, and these specialists will be able to tell you whether you are suitable to undergo these low-risk injections.