Stem cell therapy is the use of genetically engineered stem cells to cure or treat an illness or disorder. Currently, embryonic stem cell transplantation is the only treatment for genetically engineered stem cells. This usually takes the form of umbilical cord blood transplants however, the stem cells can also be obtained from umbilical cord plasma. There are a variety of concerns regarding stem cell therapies. It is recommended to consult with a professional genealogist prior to deciding on any type of stem cell treatment. Although some concerns have been voiced about the ethics of embryonic stem cells, studies show that these procedures carry very little risk and many children have had success in treating their genetic diseases using stem cells.
Scientists have discovered that certain patients can be treated with stem cells and chemotherapy at the same time. The success of this transplant is contingent on the patient’s ability to withstand the stress of the ongoing treatment. In some patients researchers have had success with a single transplant and then treated the patient with one dose of chemotherapy. Thanks to advances in medical science researchers have discovered that a person’s tolerance for stress can affect the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drugs they are taking. Researchers are currently testing new chemotherapy drugs that can be combined.
Scientists aren’t done stem cell transplants just yet. They are also studying other ways to use genetically engineered blood to treat chronic illnesses such as leukemia and multiple sclerosis. Stem cells are basically living tissue that has been re-engineered to replace and repair damaged body parts. The donor’s skin or bone marrow can be used to supply an increased supply of stem cells to the area which is in greatest need.
Researchers are also testing alternative treatments that rely on stem cells for transplants. One group is testing the effects of exposed pregnant mice to high doses of radiation. The mice were not given radiation at all; they were exposed to extremely high levels of radiation. The mice survived, but only for short durations. The mice could require months of treatment to heal because these specialized cells aren’t well absorbed by the body.
Scientists are also studying the effectiveness of immune system boosters that mix stem cell treatments and immune system enhancements. One of the most common forms of immune system boosters is a substance called interferon. Interferon is a treatment for many forms of cancer, including those of the blood and lymph. Researchers believe that stem cell treatments might have side negative effects that could be mitigated by boosting the immune system.
Scientists are also investigating the role of diet in slowing the aging process. They are studying diets that contain ingredients that aid in the growth of healthy cells. They include antioxidants. When they are created by our bodies, these substances can repair tissue damage. Some of the ingredients that are being studied by researchers are phytosterols, lecithin and lipoic acid.
Of course, scientists haven’t yet fully understood the exact effects of stem cell transplants. They understand that the number of transplants carried out is smaller than what is required for treating a serious heart disease. Scientists can see the benefits to patients if they could develop an individualized diet, exercise and transplant that result in a healthier, younger-looking heart. Stem cell transplants are an effective treatment option, as it gives patients an opportunity to live afresh.
Other researchers are also studying methods that are less dramatic, but similar to therapeutic cloning. In this instance, there is no direct human contact between the donor and recipient. Cloning involves using DNA from other people and introducing the nucleus of these cells into the egg of the recipient. If successful, this procedure could allow researchers to generate the cells required to supply an entirely new source of energy for the immune system.
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