The exciting field of regenerative medicine, which includes stem cell research, is offering a glimpse into a whole new way of dealing with disease and injury. Scientists from all over the world are discovering that the secrets of health and recovery were contained within the human body’s own DNA ‘code’ from the very beginning, locked inside specialized types of cell.
The task of the current generation and those to come will be to fully decipher that code and to create completely predictable and safe procedures for treating the plethora of illnesses and injuries that plague our species. There is no doubt that we are currently in the early stages of this journey, but with every day that passes the future comes ever closer.
If you or a loved one are considering stem cell therapy for your condition, the more knowledge, and understanding you can gather beforehand the better. Here are five areas you should fully explore before undergoing stem cell therapy.
1) Get an Overview of the Field of Regenerative Medicine
The field of regenerative medicine is complex with its own very specialized terminology. Its history, in so far as treatment is concerned, goes back to the 1950s when the first bone marrow transplants were carried out. The more you understand about the science behind stem cells, including their strengths and limitations, the more confident you will be in discussing any elements of your treatment with your physician.
For example, you should know that the most widespread use of stem cells in medicine is in rebuilding the immune system following certain cancers and in treating some immunological disorders. These conditions make use of hematopoietic stem cells which are found in the bone marrow and can divide into different types of blood cell. Other approved medical uses of stem cells are in grafting (of skin, bone and corneal tissue).
Between this current limited application and a future of almost limitless possibility lies the cautious, methodical process of clinical trials. Nevertheless, there are early stage experimental treatments now available for a variety of conditions.
2) Learn the Differences between Different Types of Stem Cell
There is a common misconception that all stem cells are capable of dividing into any possible cell that exists in the human body. This is only true of certain types of ‘totipotent’ stem cell. Others have a limited range of specification, with some only able to differentiate into one or two target cells.
Stem cells used in research and medicine can be roughly divided into four types:
- Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are controversial since they are taken from the blastocyst that develops from a fertilized egg. These are potentially capable of forming any of the more than 220 cell types of the human body.
- Somatic stem cells (or adult stem cells) are found among other cells in human tissue or organs. They are not pluripotent but can sometimes differentiate into several different types of cell.
- Mesenchymal stem cells or stromal stem cells are found in the connective tissue of the body. They are also multipotent and can differentiate into cells such as bone, cartilage, ligaments, nerves and fat. This is the type of stem cell harvested by the Gulf Coast Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center.
- Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are laboratory manipulated somatic cells which have been reprogrammed so that they can differentiate into any type of cell. By bypassing the controversy of ESC use, this new type of cell offers huge potential for future medical advances.
3) Understand that Most Stem Cell Therapy is Experimental
It is important to realize that the reality of stem cell therapy is very different to what many have been led to believe by the media and the exaggerated claims from some unscrupulous stem cell therapy centers. Yes, there are plenty of patients who have reported an improvement in their condition following stem cell therapy but such anecdotal evidence should not be taken as the sole basis for making a decision on treatment.
By understanding that most stem cell therapy is at the experimental cutting edge of science you will be best placed to make an informed decision about where you decide to go for treatment – if you decide to go ahead at all. On the other hand, it is worth bearing in mind that the time between the possible identification of a stem cell therapy for a condition and clinical proof of its efficacy is often in excess of a decade.
4) Stem Cell Therapy Divides Opinion
The issue of stem cell therapy is deeply divisive with discussions on the subject often polarized, making it difficult to access unbiased information from which to make a rational decision.
Some detractors lump all experimental stem cell therapy programmed together and claim there is no safe and effective way to treat conditions with stem cells apart from waiting for the conclusions from laboratory-controlled trials. They will often overstate the risks of stem cell therapy despite the fact there have been no documented cases of serious harm and only 2% incidence of minor complications in over 1,000 cases on the International Stem Cell Society registry.
On the other hand, some treatment centers do make false claims of efficacy and use unreliable patient testimonials to back them. Somewhere between these two poles lies the truth: that some forms of autologous stem cell therapy, carried out in sterile conditions by a proficient team of skilled physicians offer a low-risk treatment option which has been linked to positive outcomes for a range of different medical conditions.
5) The Treatment Process is Important
Following on from the previous section, it should be evident that you need to be fully briefed on every aspect of the stem cell therapy process you will be undergoing.
Questions to Ask When Looking for a Stem Cell Therapy
- From where will the stem cells be taken?
- How will they be stored and processed?
- How and when will they be introduced into the body?
- How much experience do the physicians have?
- Few more questions are here.
The answers to these questions, combined with a basic knowledge of the field of regenerative medicine, should help to guide you in making an informed decision about your future stem cell therapy.
The skilled and experienced team at the Mississippi Treatment Center harvests adipose-derived stem cells from SVF (Stromal Vascular Fraction) and rapidly reintroduces them, with minimal processing, through a safe deployment process. SVF is an abundant and reliable source of stem cells. Call (866)885 4823 or visit our website at http://www.gulfcoaststemcell.com to find out more.