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18 Aug 2011 0 Comments

What is Stem Cell Therapy

One of the most common questions people have is - What is Stem Cell therapy?

Simply put, stem cell therapy is the introduction of new cells into damaged tissues in order to treat a disease or injury. Many researchers believe that Stem Cell treatments have the potential to change the face of medicine in the decades to come. The ability of stem cells to self-renew and give rise to new cells with variable degrees of differentiation capacities, offers significant potential for generation of tissues that can potentially replace diseased and damaged areas in the body. Stem cell therapy has very low rejection rates and nearly no side effects, as it uses stem cells extracted from one’s own body. Besides healing of damaged tissues, stem cells have the unique ability to modulate the immune system so as to shut off pathological responses while preserving ability to fight off disease.

Few weeks ago, a five year old boy, suffering from e-beta Thalassaemia was cured by mixed stem cell therapy in India. This involved a unique method of treatment that combined stem cells taken from cord blood as well as bone marrow.

Today, Stem cell therapy is used to treat incurable diseases like Cerebral Palsy, Brain Haemorrhage and Stroke, Spinal Cord Injury & Paraplegia, Autism, Parkinson’s, Motor Neuron Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Liver Diseases, Huntington's Disease , Chronic Kidney Diseases, Optic Neuritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebellar Ataxia and Friedrich Ataxia.

To understand better how stem cell therapy works, let’s take an example - Spine injury. A spinal cord injury usually begins with a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that fractures or dislocates the vertebrae. Damage is immediate, as displaced bone fragments, disc material or ligaments bruise or tear the spinal cord tissue. Spinal cord injuries cause severe damage to nerve roots that carry signals to and from the brain. This results in severe mobility issues for the victim.

Stem cells derived from human umbilical cord or bone marrow, improve mobility even in spinal cord injuries. Patients are treated by injecting the stem cells directly into the damaged area or in the cerebro-spinal fluid which flows within the spinal canal. This procedure is called intrathecal injection or lumbar puncture. After the treatment, improvements were reported by patients with both incomplete and complete injuries. The Stem Cell Spinal cord injury treatment is unique because it focuses on repairing damaged tissue and restoring function, thus improving the patient's quality of life. These instances are the first physical evidence that the therapeutic use of stem cells can help restore motor skills lost from acute spinal cord tissue damage.

Here’s another example - Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is a group of mechanical abnormalities involving degradation of joints. When the bone surface ages, it is no longer protected by the cartilage, leaving the bone exposed and prone to damage. It has been demonstrated that stem cell therapy induces profound healing activity in various forms of arthritis. Stem Cell therapies are safe and more importantly effective. Research shows that more and more illnesses are coming under its purview. However, it is imperative to consult your doctors before you consider any treatment.



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