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28 Aug 2014 4 Comments

'Stem Cells are like the swiss army knife of cells'

Paul Knoepfler, author of Stem Cells – Professor, UC Davis School of Medicine and author or "Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide" talks about the promise of stem cells and commercialization of treatments using stem cells.,

What are stem cells?

As you said stem cells are part of our anatomy that grows us. When we are developing, all of us literally grow from a stem cell. It is more like a seed.

Stem cells are really the basis of a new kind of medicine. For many years, medicine has been about cutting or herbal medicines or pills. Now with stem cells the concept is about treating the body with cells. So in theory, stem cells can fix any part of the body.

There are different types of stem cells:

Adult stem cells those are specific to the different organs that can fix those particular organs. There are other kinds of stem cells that are more powerful like embryonic stem cells that are pluripotent stem cells that can make any part of the body. Pluripotent stem cells are the swiss army knife of cells that have the potential to become any type of cell.

Cells inside the umbilical cord have special powers. They can do many different things. It is relatively straightforward thing to save it. Maybe years down the line, the child may need those cells that can cure him of leukemia.

Stem cell therapies are perceived as simple procedures, sometimes as simple as taking a pill. However, we must keep in mind that unlike a pill that passes out of the system, stem cell therapies involve injecting live cells into the body that can do anything. So it is a very powerful technology that has potential for harm coming from that power as well.

Most promising treatments include for vision- there are many clinical trials going on, Diabetes – stem cells could be the solution in the next 5 – 10 years. There is intense amount of research going on. There are some companies and researchers that are trying to make laboratory made pancreases. People with diabetes their pancreases aren’t working properly. The idea is that these stem cells grown pancreases can replace the pancreases that are not working.



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