Stem cells: A Peculiar Treatment for Certain Diseases

Stem Cells and their function:

Stem Cells are the cells which are present in different areas of the human body, but these cells are not activated yet. These cells can be used to replace or repair diseased tissues in our body. More stem cells or specialized cells like brain cells or muscle cells are derived from stem cells which are used to replace the deceased cells of the same kind. These cells are present in the human body as a reservoir, which can be used to benefit humans. Stem cells can be regenerated inside the human body or in the laboratory as well under specialized conditions. This regeneration property of the stem cells is the key component of the stem cell therapy.

Stem Cells are categorized into following main types:

  • Adult Stem Cells (ASC)
  • Embryonic Stem Cells (ESC)
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (IPSC)

Since these cells are the only cells present in the human body that can be regenerated to form other cells, cell researchers have shown interest in the studies of stem cells and are coming up with different stem cell therapies for certain diseases like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), therapy for knees etc.

Parkinson’s Disease and its Remedy using Stem Cells:

Parkinson’s Disease and its Remedy using Stem Cells:

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition which affects movements and muscle control. It causes the reduction of dopamine which in turn affects voluntary and involuntary movement. It is because of the loss of neurons within the brain. This disease weakens the control of your brain over your body. Imagine trying to pick up a glass to drink water and having difficulty in doing so. Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremor or shaking, rigid muscles, changes in speech and writing, loss of automatic movements. Parkinson’s disease is a lifelong condition that can compromise daily functioning of a human being. 

There is no absolute cure for Parkinson’s disease, but different remedies are available to hinder the progression of this disease like gene therapy and stem cell therapy. Stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease provides an infinite supply of dopaminergic neurons which can be used to replace damaged neurons hence repairing the damage caused by this disease. Multiple stem cell shots are being injected within a specified time interval. These shots include specified dosage of stem cells necessary to decrease the damage, not increase it. These shots have induced pluripotent stem cells which are encouraged to become dopaminergic neurons which are then used for stem cell therapy. In this way, the treatment of Parkinson’s disease is done by stem cell therapy. Researchers are doing their best to come up with permanent solutions for Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases by making advancements in the field of stem cell therapy.

Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis using Stem Cells:

Multiple Sclerosis is progressive and autoimmune disease in which a person’s central nervous system is being attacked by his own immune system weakening the fatty coating that protects the nerves. Symptoms of this disease vary from mild to severe and may include weakness, chronic fatigue, difficulty in coordination or even memory problems. This disease is mostly common in women which is because women carry more fat than men. There is currently no cure available for this disease, but its effects can be minimized using different treatments and medicine. 

One of the treatments is called Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (AHSCT). This treatment is a combination of stem cell therapy and chemotherapy. First, a sample of hematopoietic stem cells is extracted from the patient’s body, usually blood or bone marrow. Secondly, chemotherapy is being used to destroy the damaged immune system which is attacking the patient’s central nervous system. In the end, the hematopoietic stem cells which are being extracted before the chemotherapy are injected back into the patient’s body. Now, these hematopoietic stem cells are used to regenerate the immune system which should not attack the central nervous system. In this way, the immune system of the patient is being repaired. This treatment is efficient in treating multiple sclerosis, but it only slows down the progression of the disease which greatly reduces the suffering of the patient.

Stem Cell Therapy for Knees:

Stem cell therapy is recognized as a promising treatment for several diseases like Parkinson’s disease and Multiple sclerosis. It can also be used to treat osteoarthritis of the knee. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage covering the ends of the bones starts to deteriorate and wear away. Cartilage is a protective covering at the knee joint which protects the bone from rubbing with each other by reducing the friction between them. When the cartilage wears away, the bones at the knee start to rub against each other. This rubbing causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the knee joint which ultimately cause loss of mobility. Osteoarthritis is a usually a common disease among the elderly, but people of all ages are affected by this disease. Common causes of osteoarthritis are heredity, knee injuries, overuse of knee joint. 

There are several treatments available for osteoarthritis like different medications and exercises and one of them is stem cell therapy. Although it is not an approved method for the treatment of osteoarthritis, the research is very promising. For the treatment of osteoarthritis, the stem cells are extracted from the bone marrow of the patient. Then, these stem cell shots are injected in the patient’s body. Now, these shots provide the stem cells which are being used to regenerate cartilage. In this way, stem cell therapy helps with the treatment of osteoarthritis. Stem cell therapy only reduces the progression of this disease. Now, there are some exceptional cases available in which the patient started to feel severe symptoms after being injected by stem cell shots. But these are rare cases.