Stem Cell Therapy and Research: FAQ

02/07/2016 17:44

Stem cell treatment therapy is a crucial topic for health care professionals as well as patients with degenerative conditions. Additionally it is occasionally a topic of political debate. Some rudimentary questions with regards to the therapy have been answered below.

1. Precisely what is stem cell therapy why is it important?

Stem cells are "blank slate" cells that could, under the right conditions, become other, specialized cells, such as muscle, bone, organ or nerve cells. This means that they are often capable of regenerating tissues in the body, which makes it an applicable procedure for a variety of health problems and diseases, including: degenerative disc disease; osteoarthritis; spinal-cord injury; motor neuron disease; macular degeneration; Parkinson's; ALS; heart disease and more. The therapy may be effective at treating conditions for which there is certainly no effective option.

2. May be the use of embryonic cells legal?

Yes. However, federal funding is just granted for research conducted under strict guidelines. Conducting research beyond the bounds of those guidelines can nevertheless be legal, but have to be done under private or state funding, that is harder to find.

In '09, President Obama tried to loosen restrictions on research into embryonic cells, but his efforts didn't succeed. Legislation dictates that no research relating to the coming of new stem cell lines can be funded federally. A cell lines are created when cells are obtained from a embryo, that is remaining from the in vitro fertilization process and donated to science with a consenting donor, and also the cells multiply and divide. Once cells are extracted from the embryo, the embryo is destroyed. This can be the primary reason opponents argue from this form of research. Researchers is only able to receive federal funding on studies while using small selection of of already-existing embryonic cell lines.

3. How must proponents respond to criticisms of embryonic stem cell research?

Many proponents point out that the destruction with the embryo after cells have been extracted just isn't unethical, because the embryo could have been destroyed anyway following your donor no more needed it for reproductive purposes. Actually, donors have three options: 1) destroy the remainder embryos; 2) donate with an adopting woman; or 3) donate to science. Women who don't want to donate to a different woman will either donate to look into, inducing the eventual destruction in the embryos, or decide to have them destroyed immediately.

4. How many other forms of stem cell research/therapy is there?

You'll find forms of stem cell therapy which do not require embryonic cells. Stem cells can be found in the bone marrow, blood and umbilical cords of adults; normal cells can be reverse-engineered to have limited stem cell capabilities.

5. If embryonic stem cell principals are controversial, why not go along with cells produced from adults?

Stem cells from adults have a more limited capacity to become other cells within the body than embryonic cells. Adult cells aren't reliable in order to obtain new motor neurons, for example, though they may successfully replace spinal disc, muscle, cartilage or bone fragments.

6. Are there any risks associated with this kind of therapy?

So far, there haven't been many scientific testing on people into this type of treatment. One concern, though, is that it can raise the patient's risk of cancer. Cancer is because cells that rapidly multiply and don't self-destruct normally when something is wrong. Stem cells are combined with growth factors that encourage rapid multiplication before transplanted into patients, plus they often die less quickly than other cells. Tumor growth, both benign and malignant, can result.

This year, researchers (Gadue et al) tested a procedure for developing mouse embryonic cells that involved stalling their development ahead of the endodermal stage; this led to cells that did not form tumors at a later date, but that also had limited capacity to become other kinds of cells. More research into tumor growth prevention is needed.