New Research in Stem Cell

New stem cell research has brought regenerative medicine in the realm of reality or a step closer to reality, but many ideas and concepts are still controversial. So, It becomes important to understand the basic concepts to appreciate the efforts of the scientists in developing methods to treat degenerative diseases.

What are Stem cells?
Stem cells are cells within the body and have two important properties:

  • They can multiply by dividing, even if they have been inactive for a long time.
  • They can differentiate to almost any cell in the body.

Since the body does not produce readymade cells for each tissue, it produces stem cells by multiplication and these cells produce chemical signals to stimulate tissue endogenous stem cells to repair and replace the damaged cells.

Stem Cells in therapy:
Stem cell today holds the key to regenerative medicine, where in the body heals itself. Scientists believe, understanding how stem cells work, will one day lead to possible treatments for treating diabetes and heart disease for which there is no cure.

“In theory, if we could replace the damaged cells in the diabetic individuals with new pancreatic beta cells — whose primary function is to store and release insulin to control blood glucose — patients with type 1 diabetes wouldn’t need insulin shots anymore.”

There is hope that these stem cell-derived beta cells could be available for therapeutic purposes within 3 to 5 years.”What we’re envisioning is an outpatient procedure in which some sort of device filled with the cells would be placed just beneath the skin,” .

“The allure of regenerative medicine promises to redefine medical treatment, putting stem cells and biocompatible materials center stage in this revolution. Many breakthroughs have been reported and hailed in scientific journals and the media over the years.”

Stem cells in drug development:
Research is also being done for testing and developing newer drugs by testing on stem cells. The stem cells used in this research are induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). These cells are derived from adult cells by reverting them to pluripotent embryonic stem cells stage by genetic manipulation.

Do current stem-cell therapies work?
In recent years, clinics have opened to provide stem cell treatments all over the world, providing therapies from sports injuries to cancer. Some of them reporting good results in improving the condition of the patient and increasing the longevity of the patients.

Where do stem cells come from?
Stem cells can be harvested from different sources.

Embryonic stem cells come from an embryo that are 3-5 days old . These cells are pluripotent and can give rise to all the cells in the body and can multiply indefinite times and are also quite vigorous. The disadvantage in using these cells is they form teritomas. Since these cells are derived from human embryos there are some moral and ethical issues also.

Scientists can extract mesenchymal stem cells from adult tissues, including the brain, bone marrow, adipose tissue, blood , skeletal muscle, skin, teeth, the gut, the liver, among others.

Amniotic fluid also contains stem cells. Stem cells can also be extracted from Cord blood, cord tissue and placenta, which are discarded after birth, and hence there is no ethical issues.

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are cells derived from adult tissues, and that scientists can reprogram them to act as embryonic stem cells, for use in regenerative medicine.

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