What is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell therapy is the finest medical breakthrough in history. It has bagged the much acclaimed ‘Nobel Prize in Medicine’ in the year 2012. This miracle discovery, Stem Cell therapy, has leveraged and firmly positioned India in the field of medical science, worldwide. Stem cell therapy has changed the medical perception of ‘incurable neurological disorders’ and has broken all shackles.
Regenerative medicine or stem cell therapy is one of the most promising branches of advanced medication. Its main objective is to restore organ and tissue function for patients with continual and persistent diseases. Over the years, scientists and surgeons have been using stem cell therapy to renew and repair tissues affected with age, disease, and congenital defects.
What are Stem Cells?
Cells are the building blocks of our bodies. They form different tissues and organs, and are accountable for different purposes in a multicellular body such as ours, and originate from simpler cells known as stem cells. Stem cells are specialized cells that have the capacity to reach out and fix damaged parts of our bodies. Stem cells are now considered to be a miracle of modern medicine and have given rise to a new era of therapeutic strategies such as Stem Cell Therapy. A variety of stem cells are being used by diverse sources or origins.
What Types Of Stem Cells Used For Stem Cell Therapy In India?
There are three kinds of Stem Cells which are used for Stem Cell Therapy in India:-
Adult Stem Cell
- Adult stem cells are those cells which are available throughout the body after its development.
- Adult stem cells have the capacity to differentiate into other cell types of specialized tissues or organs.
- Adult stem cells maintain, heal, or repair the tissues, to which they belong.
- They are also called ‘Somatic Stem Cells’- somatic means ‘obtained from the body’ as compared to the other stem cells which can be obtained from either the embryo or the umbilical cord.
- Adult stem cells are richly available in bone marrow, peripheral blood, blood vessels skeletal muscle, skin, teeth, heart, gut, liver, ovarian epithelium, and testis. Over the years it was discovered that these cells are even present in the brain, which advocated for the possibility of their applicability in stem cell treatment for neurological disorders.
- Since the cell multiplication capacity for adult stem cells, unlike embryonic stem cells, is controlled, they pose negligible side effects in stem cell therapy.
- Adult stem cells have the capacity to renew or replenish healthy cells in damaged tissues to help improve tissue and organ function through stem cell therapy.
Umbilical Cord Stem Cells
- Umbilical Cord Stem cells are obtained from the umbilical cord blood at the time of the birth.
- The cells which can be found from the cord blood, are hematopoietic cells, which are responsible for making every type of cell in the blood.
- Stem cell therapy with these cells can be done to treat several blood-related disorders.
- They are preserved in cord blood banks, by extracting and cryogenically freezing the cells, immediately after birth, and can be used for stem cell treatment in India during the individual’s lifetime.
- Embryonic Stem Cell
- Embryonic stem cells are acquired from the embryo itself.
- They have unlimited developmental potential.
- Their proliferative tendency to raise their therapeutic range to leaps and bounds.
- In spite of its high potential, using these cells for stem cell therapy raises major ethical red flags and risks.
- Their truly unlimited potential also increases the risk of tumorigenic tendencies once injected.
What are the disorders that can be treated with stem cell therapy?
Depending on the type of stem cell, there is an abundance of disorders for which stem cell therapy can be considered. The ever-evolving research on stem cells also builds a strong future for the untapped therapeutic potential of stem cell therapy. In recent years it has been discovered that in incurable diseases and injuries, where medical science finds a dead end, stem cell therapy leaps in.
The disorders that can be treated with stem cell therapy are:-
- Cerebral Palsy
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Intellectual Disability
- Head Injuries
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Motor Neuron Disorders
What is the Ethical Principle of Cell Therapy?
Rapid progress in the field of biotechnology has introduced a myriad of pressing ethical issues associated with stem cell research. Worldwide and particularly in Asian countries, where stem cell therapy is more advanced, the ethical basis of utilizing stem cell therapy as a treatment modality is based on the Declaration of Helsinki (DoH) on the ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects. This Declaration of Helsinki is a set of ethical principles regarding human experimentation developed for the medical fraternity and is drafted by the World Medical Association (WMA). It is widely regarded as the cornerstone document on the bioethics of human research.