11 Nov Stem cells – sources and effects
Stem cells have been studied and used in treatments for many years now. While in the early years, stem cell sourcing raised ethical concerns, modern stem cell sources safer and free from such controversy. For example, stem cells can now be obtained from adipose or fat tissue, bone marrow, and donated umbilical cord tissue after birth, without any harm to the baby and with the consent of parents.
Stem cells are ‘blank’ cells that have not yet specialized to take on a specific function in the body. However, they hold an excellent potential to differentiate into many different types of cells in the body. In fact, this is how embryos develop into fully functioning babies.
Since cord stem cells are the youngest, they can contribute to the most effective stem cell treatments. After childbirth, the umbilical cord is discarded as medical waste. However, a large number of highly potent mesenchymal stem cells are within the cord tissue. This has led to the treatment for several diseases that have no cure available and allows many patients to live a better quality of life, with reduced symptoms and the need for surgery pushed several years into the future. However, the patients may need repetitive treatments to maintain the quality and quantity of stem cells available in the body to fight the disease.