Stem cells is one of the most important medical discovery made in the past century. Stem cell therapy has evolved over the years to become potential for treatment or even cure for conditions that were not treatable before. However, as a research tool and medical treatment, stem cells have been controversial since they were first discovered in 1980’s. Hence, there are many myths and misconceptions about stem cell therapy. These myths and misconceptions are preventing many patients to get their treatment.
Stem cells are the master cells of the body. These cells can multiply and differentiate into specialized cells. They are the only cell in our body that has the ability to either become another cell or to produce new cell types. Skin cells can make new skin cells. Similarly blood cells can create new blood cells. However, only stem cells have the potential to become any other type of cell. This is the reason that scientist and doctors are taking interest in stem cells. This property of stem cells can help to treat many medical conditions. There has been much study and research in the past and is still going on all over the world for stem cells. Some of the common myths and misconceptions about stem cells are:
Stem cells are derive only from embryos:
This is mainly the most common misconception about the stem cells. Stem cells can be found throughout the body. Research has proven that there are many ways to obtain stem cells that do not require any embryo. Stem cells are also obtain from bone marrow which contain blood stem cells. However, harvesting stem cells from bone marrow is painful and used to treat blood conditions and for bone marrow transplant. Less painful way to harvest stem cells are from umbilical cord. Stem cells are obtain from the cord blood that comes from the umbilical cord or amniotic fluid during childbirth.
Stem cells from embryo can differentiate and divide into any type of cell (pluripotency). Adult stem cells (multipotent) are specialize cell that appear throughout the body and replicate into helpful cells when needed for healing tissue and organs. So, stem cell therapy with adult stem cells have created surprising array of recent medical breakthrough.
Body can reject stem cells:
Stem cell treatment mainly uses our own stem cells. This type of treatment is autologous stem cell transplant. There is a risk of rejection in an organ transplant because the organ is obtain from a donor. However, some types of blood-borne cancer require donation of stem cells from other individual. There are some health risks with receiving donor stem cells. On the other hand, adult stem cells are patients own cell obtain from his own body (such as fat tissue or bone marrow). Therefore, there is no chance or risk of rejection.
Each case is treated the same way:
There are many types of regenerative therapies like stem cell treatment, platelet rich plasma, and every case is treated as an individual case. The patient’s medical history and the stage or maturity of disease is considered. Therefore the mode of stem cells implantation are specific in each case. After a detail study and review of patients case, blood tests and scans are done to establish a baseline for their condition and treatment. The choice of treatment is at the discretion of the doctor/consultant and patients case.
Stem cells can cure all disease:
Studies have shown that stem cells are effective in treating various types of disease. They can improve and even help in recovery, but they do not guarantee cure for all diseases or conditions. Similarly, stem cell therapy may have the ability to heal a tear in rotator cuff tendon when it is partial but not when the tear is full. However, to establish their effectiveness in slowing or reversing the progress of certain disease like Parkinson’s, lupus, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and other common disease is still under research.