What Is Stem Cell Therapy?

Posted on: 10 October 2018

Have you ever heard the term stem cell therapy but really have no idea what it is? If so, you're certainly not alone. Compared to other types of research in the medical field, this type of therapy is relatively new. Stem cells were first discovered in 1978, but it wasn't until 1998 that scientists were able to obtain stem cells from human embryos. Before this, they were only able to get them from mice, hamsters, and primates.

The Primary Types of Stem Cells

Cells are the tiny parts of an organism that live inside the body and can only be seen by a microscope. Cells are made out of cytoplasm and a nucleus and are enclosed in a membrane. Human beings have 200 different types of cells, which are labeled either specialized or unspecialized.

Specialized cells have a specific job to do and cannot be manipulated to do any other job. Unspecialized cells, also known as stem cells, can carry out other functions. The four primary types of stem cells include

  • Embryonic stem cells
  • Adult stem cells
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Cord blood and amniotic fluid stem cells

These four types of stem cells are used in a variety of stem cell treatments and stem cell therapy.

How Stem Cell Therapy Works

If you understand how an organ transplant works, you are well are on way to understanding how stem cell therapy works. Instead of replacing a major organ, the cells get replaced instead.

For example, an adult stem gets placed in the heart, liver, or another damaged organ, to do the job of the specialized cells in that organ. This is done by injecting the stem cell into whatever part of the body is in need of healing.

Diseases and Injuries Stem Cells Can Treat

Some of the diseases that stem cell have the potential to treat include

  • Alzheimer's disease and other types of neurological diseases
  • Certain types of cancers
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Liver disease
  • Heart disease

Stem cell therapy can also aid in treating injuries of certain parts of the body including the articular cartilage, the spine, and any other organ that has sustained injury or damage. Stem cell treatment can also be used to produce insulin for those who suffer from diabetes.

While stem cell therapy looks like a promising way to treat a variety of diseases and injuries, it should be noted that there is still much research that needs to be done.