Stem cell therapy is no longer an idea exclusive to science fiction. Anindra Siqueira tells you how this therapy can be used to treat age-related disorders
You’ve probably heard of stem cell therapy; it’s been popularised by the media as a treatment for practically every problem under the sun. However, if the picture you have is of people in white lab coats petting cloned sheep, you are way off!
The technology is quite accessible, and is used to treat not only serious conditions such as Alzheimer’s, but also certain disorders such as hair loss and age-related blindness. Vipul Jain, founder and CEO of Advancells, which provides stem cell therapy solutions, explains, “Stem cell therapy acts as regenerative medicine. It involves rejuvenating the affected organ and reverses the effects of the disease.” He explains that this type of treatment targets the root of the disease, not just its symptoms.
Vipul tells us that the treatment involves extracting a small amount of adipose tissue, or fat cells, from the area around your stomach or hips. This is put through a process that helps to separate stem cells, which are then re-injected intravenously or directly into the affected organ.
So, where do the age-related diseases come in? As it turns out, stem cell therapy can be used to combat conditions that are brought on by stress to our body cells. Conditions such as hair loss, rapid ageing and eye disorders can be linked, at least in part, to your lifestyle. In addition, their symptoms can be reduced by stem cell therapy. Many of these can be thought of as lifestyle disorders because people suffer from them at earlier stages in their lives.
Vipul also tells us that when it comes to hair loss, this treatment involves turning the stem cells into hair follicles that are then transplanted to the affected part of your scalp. One of the biggest areas in which stem cell therapy is helpful is in the treatment of macular degeneration — a condition of the eye where people gradually lose their eyesight. This treatment can be used to restore vision by injecting stem cells in the back of the eye, where the damaged photoreceptors are located. And, the therapy can also be used to reverse certain signs of ageing. Vipul explains that when they’re injected in the wrinkles just under the skin, stem cells can help rejuvenate your body, leading to younger-looking skin.