Stem cells has the potential to provide the body with tissue repair and regeneration capacity owing to the ability of stem cells to differentiate into several cell lineages of the body. Although stem cell therapy or regenerative medicine has not yet been seen as part of the conventional therapeutic regime, future treatment practices assure the inclusion of stem cell therapy as an assertive prescribed treatment for various tissue-damaging disorders like Neurological Disorders and musculoskeletal disorders.
Stem Cells- Building Blocks of Body
Stem cells are the master cells or building blocks of body and have two unique properties self renewal and multi lineage differentiation potential i.e. they are capable of replicating themselves an unlimited number of times and differentiating themselves into different kind of cells such as neurons, heart, lung, skin etc. These cells can be considered as body’s internal repair system that lies latent in our body and these are summoned at the site of damage or inflammation when they receive signals from injured area. These cells replicate in a continuous fashion to replenish other cells or morph into cells with specialised functions. Researchers are harnessing these power properties of stem cells and a number of potential applications with stem cells arising are truly stunning.
Therapeutic Applications of Stem Cells in Health
Current research focuses on the potential uses of stem cells in medicine and how they can provide effective treatment for a range of diseases. Here are some of the potential possibilities of stem cells-
Stem cells in cosmetics
The advancements made in anti-ageing and cosmetic research have unlocked the potential of stem cells in achieving rejuvenated skin. The use of stem cells in skin can produce several important molecules that can signal synthesis of collagen thereby causing facial rejuvenation and an effective anti ageing treatment.
Stem cells in Tissue engineering
With the increasing number of patients suffering from damaged or diseased organs and the shortage of organ donors, the need to construct human tissues outside the body has arisen. The tissue engineering – an emerging biomedical approach applies the principles of cell transplant, material science, and bio-engineering to construct biological substitutes that will restore and repair damaged tissues. A challenge for tissue engineering is to identify appropriate cell sources. The advancements made in stem cell biology provide enormous opportunities to engineer stem cells for tissue engineering especially for bone and skin tissues.
Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of mortality directly or indirectly, such as in the case of heart diseases linked with diabetes, etc. Therapeutic use of stem cells for treatment, research has shown positive results in the case of heart tissue damage repair, restoration, and regeneration. Studies have shown that bone marrow stem cells can repair myocardial damage and improve heart function by myocardial regeneration. owing to the significant positive results, clinical trials have begun using bone marrow-derived stem cells. Researchers are looking for optimized standard ways for cell harvesting and delivery procedures for a better understanding of the basic mechanisms underlying successful stem cell therapy for clinical implementation.
Although theoretical explanations easily normalize the differentiation of stem cells into neurons, oligodendrocytes, and astrocytes, the switch mechanism for specific differentiation of stem cells into different cells of the central and peripheral nervous system are yet to be clinically elucidated for a better grasp of treatment understanding in the clinical trial scenario for the patients. Nevertheless, it is widely believed that stem cells infused in the patient body can help in improving the conditions of disorders like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and stroke. Animal studies have encouraged these beliefs and research has shown that stem cell therapy can help in reducing dementia and improve neurological functions after injury.
Dental stem cells can significantly help in repairing tooth tissue damage including dental pulp, dentin, and periodontal ligament. Dental stem cells can not only function in case of teeth related issues but they can also differentiate into nervous and bone tissue as the dental stem cells are believed to originate from the neural crest cells and thus behave like generic mesenchymal stem cells. However, for a better understanding of the differentiation properties and specifications of these stem cells, further studies are required to find out the switch mechanisms of dental stem cells into cells of other body tissues.
Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injury is damage to the spinal cord causing loss of neural sensation, muscle function, reflex, and other movement-related functions. In the case of cell therapy for spinal cord injury, neural stem cells have shown the potential to replace the lost tissue after spinal cord neural damage. These stem cells can help in neural repair by promoting growth factors and anti-inflammatory activities. Preclinical studies are showing significant positive results and pilot cases have also given good results in spinal cord injury patients upon treatment with stem cells and regenerative medicine.