Stem cell therapy
Stem cells in general and various approaches to stem cell therapy are discussed. All therapies are both legal and simple. A new nutritional product, Stemplex, is also under discussion. Read the full article to learn more.
Stem cells and stem cell therapy have received a lot of coverage recently, some of which are controversial. That’s why I decided this month to discuss stem cells in general, along with different approaches to stem cell therapy.
Embryonic versus adult stem cells
A stem cell is an undifferentiated cell that can renew itself and develop into at least three different tissue types. Embryonic stem cells come from early embryos and can differentiate into all adult cell types. Embryonic stem cells behave consistently under the microscope, but are much less predictable when injected into the body. They can offer some research benefits, but their use is controversial and not useful for actual treatments.
Adult stem cells live in postfetal animals. Examples are line-bound, such as hematopoietic stem cells, which become red or white blood cells, or mesenchymal stem cells, which can become many types of tissue, including bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, heart, liver or nerves. Sources of adult stem cells are bone marrow, fat, brain tissue and muscles. Of all tissues, fat provides the largest number of mesenchymal stem cells, while bone marrow or umbilical blood give more stem cells that become red or white blood cells.
Types of stem cells
There are different categories of stem cells, including autologous, allogeneic, and xenogeneic. Autologous stem cells come from the same animal. These are best for transplanting since there are no concerns that they will be rejected. Allogeneic stem cells are from a donor of the same type. Because stem cells do not have the standard cell surface markers that would elicit an immune response, these cells may be able to be used without fear of host tissue rejection. Xenogenic stem cells come from a different donor, for example a pig. Although these cells would be expected to be rejected, in some cases, because of their unique properties, they can survive when injected into the body of another species.
How do stem cells work?
The most commonly mentioned function of stem cells is their ability to differentiate into different tissues, but they also have other skills that can be very beneficial for healing.
Stem cells are triggered by signals from the tissue that are based on chemical, neuronal and mechanical changes. Hypoxia, lack of oxygen, and inflammation are powerful triggers for stem cells that target injury, even though the stem cells make up less than half of the newly formed tissue. The rest of the repair is done by other cells that are recruited and managed from the original stem cells. For this reason, very small injections of stem cells are used. Injecting a large number of stem cells into an injured area can actually interfere with healing because some of the injected cells die and need to be removed during the healing process.
Under ideal conditions, stem cells would respond to injuries and heal. Factors that affect stem cell response include animal age, animal fitness, and free radical levels in the body. Free radicals damage all cells, including stem cells.