Welcome back to the Seattle Stem Cell Center blog. On this portion of our site, we like to use our space to go into deeper dives on topics that pop up as FAQs, talk about the science behind stem cells, their uses and much more. This time we are going to enter the next logical question, ‘What is stem cell therapy?’ It’s the focus of our work here at the Seattle Stem Cell Center so we are happy to answer this question.
First a quick disclaimer, in this blog we will be talking about what stem cell therapy is in general and how our specific process works. We cannot speak for every stem cell center, and in fact, wouldn’t want to, some get their stem cells for treatments from cadavers while we only use those provided by the patient’s own body.
Stem Cell Therapy – The Basics
Stem cell therapy utilizes stem cells, in our case autologous stem cells, to promote the repair reaction of injured, diseased, or otherwise harmed tissues. That may be a step too deep to understand, let’s take a step back.
Think of an organ transplant. A donor donates their functioning kidney to another person whose kidney has failed. They replace the dysfunctional organ with a new, healthy one. The body adapts, heals, and gets back to its healthy state.
Stem cell therapy is like that but on a microscopic scale. It is the transplant of healthy, functioning stem cells from a donor (in our case yourself!) and planting them into a trauma area or injury and inducing the repairing of your cells, in turn, heal the tissues, in turn, rebuild the organs or whatever area is being treated.
Why the Sudden Interest?
You may be wondering why there is a sudden interest in stem cells. Scientists and doctors are hoping that stem cells can help understand the cause of diseases and cure to diseases, replace diseased cells, and test new drugs and their effectiveness. When understanding diseases scientists’ study and watch how stem cells mature into other cells within bones, organs, tissues, muscles, and nerves. Scientists are also studying how stem cells can be used as regenerative medicine. Stem cell therapy is a way in which these cells are used as a medicine such as spinal injuries, type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and much more. When testing new drugs for the effectiveness and safety of stem cells are where scientists test these drugs before humans. This enables doctors and scientists to see how the cell reacts to the drug and whether or not the cell was harmed.
Recently, scientists stopped working with only two types of stem cells found in humans and animals. These stem cells are embryonic and adult stem cells, both of which will be explained in a later article. There are also induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS cells), meaning they can change into any cell into the body. However, IPS are made in a laboratory and not found in the body. In each body stems cells are extremely important. In a 3 to 5-day old embryo, inner cells enable the entire body to grow. These give specialization cell types and organs like the lungs, skin, heart, sperm, eggs, or other tissues in the body.
Due to their unique abilities stem cells are now being used for the treatment of different diseases. With this newer discovery of how helpful stem cells are there is still much research to be done in laboratories and clinics. By studying stem cells in laboratories scientists are able to understand the cells’ properties and why they are different from specialized cells. They can also understand how stem cells become specialized cells under certain conditions.
Research on what a stem cell is will continue to advance knowledge about the organism, how it develops, and how they replenish damaged cells. Studies will continue to enable scientists to evaluate new drugs, treat diseased, and find the causes of birth defects. When asking yourself, “What is a stem cell?” you now have basic knowledge on the subject. You can now understand how important stem cells are for our bodies and how they are currently changing medicine. This discovery of stem cells and their properties is going to change the way we react to diseases, cancer, and emergencies in an entirely new way.