Stem Cell MalaysiaWhat Is Stem Cell?
Stem cells are cells that are capable of regenerating and differentiation. They were first discovered in the hematopoietic (blood) system however are thought to be found in many other tissues in the body. Stem cells have provided a medical marvel for those suffering from blood, cancer, derm, ophthalmologic(eye) and orthopedic diseases and ailments. The role of stem cells in medicine today is to be used as a therapy or targets of certain drugs as well as a means of regenerations of differentiated tissues for those with diseases. Stem cells are also being used to regenerate tissues for diseases studies and drug developments. This article will explain what are stem cells and the types known and used as well as benefits of such therapies.
Stem cells have the ability to differentiate into almost any other cell in the body. This can be divided into totipotent, pluripotent and unipotent cells. Unipotent cells can only make one cell type such as germ cells which become an egg or sperm. Pluripotent are cells can make most of the cells in the embryo while totipotent cells can produce almost any cell type of a developing organism. The source of stem cells vary/ Most stem cells are derived from human embryos, amniotic sac and fetuses. However the use and practice of obtaining cells from those are banned and unethical. However stem cells from umbilical cord blood , tissue and placenta is acceptable for use or preservation after birth for one’s own use. Finally in the adults, bone marrow is a rich source of stem cells and is what is widely used today in most cancers and blood disorders.
There are two types of adult stem cells that are most diverse and well researched. This being haemopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).
HSCs are derived from cord blood and peripheral blood. MSCs are derived from wharton’s jelly and fatty tissue or tooth pulp. Both can be derived from bone marrow. Haemopoietic stem cells are able to differentiate to all blood cells such as lymphocytes, platelets, eosinophils and neutrophils which all aid in the immune and vascular system. However HSCs are limited to blood cells only.
Mesenchymal stem cells are multipotent and can be differentiated into a variety of cells such as muscles, blood cells, neurons, intestinal cells, pancreatic cells and liver cells. MSC is best found in the umbilical cord tissue and extracted via syringe from wharton’s jelly which houses the vascular system and tissue of the umbilical cord. MSC being able to transform into any cell has immunoprivileged which means it will not be killed by the host( the patient’s) immune defense system. This is crucial as rejection is a complication we want to avoid in stem cell or any tissue transplant. MScs also carry with them a host of growth factors which help the host cells to recharge and rejuvenate.
Studies show those treated with MSCs were found to have increased Insulin like growth factor significantly in just under a year’s time. This is very important for patients suffering from diabetes as the pancreas function to release insulin is destroyed as well as those with blood cancers who need blood cells. Parkinson’s disease is shown to benefit from stem cells as neuron regeneration aids in functional improvement of those afflicted with the diseases. Those with spinal cord injuries also benefit from the regeneration of neurons. Retinal or eye regeneration is important for those with ophthalmological diseases from macular degeneration due to age or diabetes. Anemia from genetic defects can also be corrected by the regeneration or normal producing blood cells. Alcoholics or those with hepatitis benefit from the regrowth of liver cells. Finally, gastrointestinal disorders are prevalent in all of Asia and the ability to regenerative intestinal cells would be beneficial to those with intestinal cancers, crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Therefore MSC seems to be the most beneficial even though HSc is more widely used.
Stem cells can be a medical advantage in many sufferers of tissue and blood disease and the more research and studies done, the more widely used it will become. Ask your doctor today how you can benefit from stem cell therapy if warranted!