There is great hype globally around the potential of stem cell therapies. While stem cells undoubtedly have tremendous potential for regenerative applications, there are myths and over-exaggeration of the claims that many clinics offer. These false claims can raise hopes for innumerable people. Stem cell therapy is tailored for every individual and the results will vary. What might work on one patient will not be the same on others. Some of the myths around stem cell therapy are as follows:
MYTH 1: Same type of stem cells is applicable for a range of diseases
Every disease is manifested differently and requires a different set of treatments and approaches. Whether the mode is allogenic or autologous, transplantation of the stem cells will alter according to age group, disease condition, and other medical parameters. Also, source of stem cells used for treatment will vary. For instance, Hematopoietic stem cells will only generate blood and therefore cannot be used for generation of the cells of nervous system. Similarly, embryonic stem cells can form a wide range of cells and tissues but there are ethical concerns associated with its applications.
MYTH 2: All cells isolated from Bone marrow will be stem cells
Stem cells need to be rigorously characterized before transplanting them into patients. This is necessary to validate that the cells are true stem cells and have all properties required for regeneration of tissues. Poorly characterized cells will not be able to perform their function ineffectively and can also lead to unexpected outcomes like tumor formation. Therefore, thorough quality control and strict guidelines must be formulated to check this. The laboratory must be well equipped with specialists who are experienced to handle your cells.
MYTH 3: Stem cells can treat any patients
One false claim that is widely made is the ability of stem cells to treat advanced-stage patients. Terminally patients are often not suitable candidates for stem cell therapy. Medical evaluation of the patient is necessary before they are classified eligible for any experimental approach. Patients’ past medical records, family history must be examined by a medical practitioner before
MYTH 4: Stem cells will cure the disease 100%
The effectiveness of the treatment depends on several criteria. Not every patient is similar. Depending on the disease stage, patient age, and other conditions, the outcomes will vary among the patients. Younger patients respond better to the treatment than the elderly. For instance, patients of neurological disorders such as Autism or Cerebral Palsy will have maximum effects of the therapy between age 5-10. This is because the neurons will grow only up to that age although neuronal connections will still expand.
MYTH 5: Stem cells will treat the disease instantly?
Stem cells are not a magic pill that you pop up and the results show up. They work on a very complex biological mechanism at a much deeper level. They not only treat the symptoms of the disease but work on the root cause. Effects will typically take up weeks to months to fully develop. Usually, significant progress can be observed 3 months post-treatment and continue to show up. Therefore, patience is worth it.