Stem cells are being used to treat a variety of medical conditions. Read on to learn how does stem cell therapy work here.
Stem cell therapy is an increasingly popular treatment method and doctors are recommending it for more and more conditions. It’s predicted that the global stem cell therapy market will increase in value from $7.8 billion in 2018 to more than $15 billion by 2025.
But stem cell therapy is an area that is not well understood by many patients. If your doctor has recommended this treatment for you, it can seem a little overwhelming. You might be wondering, just how does stem cell therapy work?
It sounds like a complex topic, and it does represent some very advanced scientific practices. But read on to find a simple explanation of what stem cell therapy is and how it works.
What Is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell therapy is a form of regenerative medicine. Doctors are now using it for conditions that were previously hard to treat or would have required surgery, and also for cancer patients. Many patients are now benefitting as a result.
It’s possible to use stem cells as a non-invasive treatment to repair damaged cells within the body. This can accelerate the healing process, or result in tissue being healed which otherwise would have remained permanently damaged.
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are nature’s very own repair kit. When the body receives an injury, the stem cells rush to the injured area to start the healing process. Sometimes, the body’s own stem cells can’t get through, due to disease or trauma. That’s where stem cell therapy comes in.
Stem cells are cells that haven’t specialized within the body – they haven’t yet grown into a cell with a specific function, such as a skin cell or a muscle cell. They self-renew multiple times over long periods and also can regenerate to replace damaged cells.
These cells can be extracted from the body in different ways. They are then reintroduced back into the body in a specific and focused way, to treat a wide variety of conditions.
So, exactly what are stem cells used for in the body? There are more and more answers to this question as research progresses. Let’s explore in a bit more detail about how stem cell therapy can help with a multitude of different conditions.
How Does Stem Cell Therapy Work?
Doctors can use stem cells therapeutically to support the regeneration of damaged or diseased tissues. They hone in on areas of inflammation in the body, where they influence tissue repair, change the behavior of existing cells, and boost the immune system.
Where Do Stem Cells Come From?
Most stem cell therapies involve harvesting stem cells from the patient’s own body. This reduces the risk of rejection to almost nil.
The quickest and safest way to do this is through the gathering of fat cells, or adipose, which are full of stem cells. These cells are separated by being spun in a centrifuge and then injected back into the injured part of the body.
Other sources of stem cells include the blood, bone marrow, umbilical tissue and cord blood, and placental tissue. Scientists are undertaking further research and clinical trials into the use of embryonic stem cells.
How Are Stem Cells Administered?
The simplest way to administer stem cells is by injecting them back into the problem part of the body, for example, the hip or knees in the case of orthopedic issues. It’s also possible to deliver stem cells intravenously or via an intrathecal method, straight into the spinal canal.
What Is Stem Cell Therapy Used For?
Research is evolving all the time and there are multiple conditions for which stem cell therapy is now a viable treatment option. These include orthopedic conditions, spinal cord injuries and other traumatic injuries, including rotator cuff tears, and treatment for osteoarthritis.
Studies have also been carried out for the use of stem cell therapy to treat autoimmune diseases, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s, multiple sclerosis, Lupus, and other chronic conditions.
Further indications include diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, retinal and neurological diseases, and disorders of the blood, immune system and metabolism.
What About Umbilical Stem Cells?
Stem cells age as we do, so the stem cells from an older person won’t be as potent and effective as stem cells from an umbilical cord, for example. This is why umbilical cells are increasingly being used for more complex stem cell therapy.
Umbilical cord blood and tissue, which was once seen as a waste product, is now a valuable source of stem cells due to amazing advances in medical science. It’s relatively easy to collect these cells and freeze them for later use.
It’s been a successful treatment method for children suffering from blood diseases such as leukemia since the technology was developed in the 1980s, and has saved many lives. Research is ongoing about how umbilical stem cells could also be used to treat adults.
How Long Does Stem Cell Therapy Work For?
If your doctor has recommended stem cell therapy, you might be wondering how long you can expect the benefits to last. It really depends on the type of therapy, but stem cells generally continue to act on the surrounding tissue by regenerating into new cells for around a year.
Stem cell therapy is not necessarily a cure, but it allows the body to heal itself enough to help with symptoms. This can improve the quality of life for large numbers of patients.
How Does Stem Cell Therapy Work for Cancer?
Stem cells can be used directly to treat some types of blood-borne cancers, including leukemia and multiple myeloma. It’s more commonly used for regenerating cells that have been destroyed by high doses of radiation or chemotherapy treatment.
Generally, stem cell therapy is non-invasive with quick recovery times. However, for cancer patients, it can be more complex and have some side effects, partly due to other treatments that may be taking place concurrently.
Understanding Stem Cell Therapy
If your doctor has referred you for this treatment, and you were asking yourself, how does stem cell therapy work, you should now feel much better informed. Advances in research and technology have made this a remarkable treatment that can help with multiple conditions.
If you’re interested in learning more about other aspects of health and wellness, be sure to explore the rest of the website.
Author: Darcy Reed