Stem Cell Treatments


Before I begin this discussion on stem cell therapy, I want to qualify that there are two forms of stem cell treatment. One uses adult stem cells, the other controversial embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells, whilst subject to a lot of heated public opinion are undeniably an integral part of future anti-aging medicine.

What are Stem Cells

Video - Understanding Stem Cells [7:52]


Adult Stem Cells

An adult stem cell is a cell found in a very specific part of tissue or organs, the "stem cell niche". A stem cell does not divide and duplicate itself in the same rate as other cells, unless activated by a normal need for more cells to maintain tissues, or by disease or tissue injury.

However a stem cell does renew itself and can 'differentiate' to yield some or all of the major specialized cell types of the tissue or organ. Their role is to maintain and repair the tissue in which they are found. Adult stem cells are also known as somatic stem cells.

Some experiments have also reported that certain adult stem cell types can differentiate into cell types of organs or tissues other than those of residence. Thus, brain stem cells that differentiate into blood cells or blood-forming cells that differentiate into cardiac muscle cells etc. This process is known as transdifferentiation. Transdifferentiation is important in that it paves the way for in vivo reprogramming of cells as a basis of genetic modification that may lead to effective prevention or cure of genetic based diseases.

Embryonic Stem Cells

Embryonic stem cells are derived from laboratory developed fertilized human eggs, not from aborted embryos.

The process to extract the stem cells occurs when the embryos are typically four or five days old and are merely a microscopic ball of blastocyst cells. Establishing a line of cells takes many process iterations over many months. During this time the line of cells is periodically tested to determine whether the cells exhibit the fundamental properties that make them embryonic stem cells. This process is called characterization

They also test for presence of cell surface markers that are typically produced by undifferentiated cells and whether the chromosomes are damaged or changed. It does not however detect genetic mutations in the cells

The aim is to direct the differentiation of embryonic stem cells into specific cell types that may be used to treat specific diseases such as Parkinson's disease, diabetes, traumatic spinal cord injury, Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, heart disease, and vision and hearing loss.

Video - Embryonic Stem Cells [2:53}

This video reviews the benefits of cord blood stem cells and the differences between cord blood stem cells and embryonic or adult stem cells. Cord blood stem cells have been used as a treatment for thousands of patients, while embryonic stem cells have never been used as a treatment in humans.


Stem Cells and Aging

As we age, our stem cells diminish in quality and quantity, the result being that organs and tissues eventually wear out and need to be restored or replaced.

Adult stem cell therapy promises to provide a remedy to this aging process and also in the restoration of aged skin. By using the patients own adult stem cells, there is minimal risk of rejection, avoiding the need for dangerous immunosuppressive drugs.

With assisted differentiation, stem cells can be used to repair many different types of tissues, and remedy many different types of damage through age related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Stroke, Heart disease, Diabetes, Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis


The Future of Stem Cell Treatments

In spite of public debate, stem cell treatments currently offer the most promise fro the 50,000 people a year who die waiting for organ transplants and the 100,000 who die each day from aging-related diseases and conditions.


Stem Cells - Fountain of Youth?

Aside from the medicinal treatments stem cells will support, they also hold great promise for cosmetic regeneration of the skin.

Over time, skin cells are randomly damaged or mutated and the body can not keep pace with the regeneration program - hence aging skin.

This could also be applied to preventative treatments, for instance heart muscle stem cells can be used to boost rejeneration of the heart, preventing the onset of cardiac related diseases.

Stem cell therapy is one of the most promising fields in both medicine and antiaging.

Next: Stem Cell Replacement Therapy To End Aging - 1

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