09 Sep Stem Cell Therapy Treats Kidney Failure
When your kidneys finally fail, it can signal the end of your renal disease fight. Patients need to be supported on dialysis or receive a kidney transplant to survive. Stem cells are now being considered as a treatment for kidney failure. They may be able to regenerate the diseased kidney tissue, adding years to a patient’s life span and allowing time for a transplant.
What is Kidney Failure?
Kidney failure, also called end-stage renal disease (ESRD), is the last stage of chronic kidney disease. When your kidneys fail, it means they have stopped working well enough for you to survive without dialysis or a kidney transplant. In most cases, kidney failure is caused by other health problems that have done permanent damage to your kidneys over time. When your kidneys are damaged, they may not work as well as they should, or at all. If the damage to your kidneys continues to get worse and your kidneys are less and less able to do their job, you have chronic kidney disease. Kidney failure is the last and most severe stage of chronic kidney disease. This is why kidney failure is also called end-stage renal disease. Diabetes is the most common cause of ESRD, while high blood pressure is the second most common cause of ESRD.
What is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cells are being used in regenerative medicine because of their unique healing properties. They are the origin for every specialized cell in our body, and any type of cell can be made out of a stem cell if it is programmed that way. Stem cell therapy is becoming increasingly more popular and safe, considered a miracle treatment in modern medicine. There are many different sources to harvest stem cells from, some less controversial than others. The most common sources of stem cells are embryonic cells, adult stem cells like bone marrow cells and fat tissue cells, adult stem cells that have been changed into embryonic cells, and perinatal cells. Generally, harvesting stem cells from a patient’s fat tissue is the easiest method. It is a quick, pain-free procedure where fat tissue is taken from anywhere on the body, and the stem cells in the fat tissue are harvested for therapeutic use. These fat-derived stem cells never decline in abundance as you age, as adult bone marrow stem cells do. Bone marrow stem cells can also be extremely painful to harvest, unlike fat cells that require a relatively non-invasive procedure. Embryonic stem cells have been considered unethical to use, as they take them from unborn, fertilized embryos.
How Can Stem Cells Treat Kidney Failure?
While there are no current FDA approved stem cell therapy treatments for kidney failure, early clinical trials are showing promising results. Stem cells can regenerate the diseased and dead tissue in the kidneys that has caused them to stop functioning properly. They can be administered directly, or through the dialysis machine and delivered through the blood to the kidneys. More studies need to be done to determine the safety of stem cell therapy for kidney failure.