Stem cells - a panacea for all diseases?
There are many legends and myths around cell therapy. Someone assures that this is a panacea for all diseases and the elixir of youth long sought by mankind, and someone like this assertion doubts its truth. We decided to find out what stem cell treatment is and whether it is as effective as the doctors at private clinics say.
What are stem cells?
Stem (undifferentiated, immature) cells are precursor cells with two unique properties:
- the ability to endlessly divide;
- the absence of any signs of species (tissue) accessories.
Explain more. The cells of the skin, hair, heart muscle, liver and other human organs have their own characteristics that distinguish (differentiate) them from each other. Stem cells do not have such distinctive features. It can be said that they are universal, and that is why they serve as valuable material from which scientists are trying to grow human organs for transplantation.
The first stem cell is a zygote (fertilized egg), from which an embryo is formed during intensive division. Some cells after division remain stem, and some go along the path of differentiation, that is, of them then human tissues and organs develop.
Stem cells: species
There are 3 mainstem cell types:
- embryonic. Contained in an embryo that is in an early stage of development, they are distinguished by pluripotency - the ability to transform into any other cell type. They do not produce antigens, and therefore do not reject during transplantation, which is very attractive physicians. However, these same cells often provoke the appearance of cancer;
- fetal Stand out from abortive material extracted during abortion at 9-12 weeks. They have the rudiments of differentiation, and therefore they are used in the treatment of only certain organs;
- adults (postnatal). Their container is the bone marrow and umbilical cord blood. If the methods of obtaining cells of the first two types are hardly ethical, then the use of postnatal material does not cause any complaints from a moral point of view.
In turn, postnatal cells also have varieties, among which there are:
- hematopoietic - giving rise to blood cells;
- mesenchymal - internal organs are subsequently formed from them;
- tissue-specific - laying the foundation for the formation of skin, ligaments, bones;
- neurogenic - "parents" of cells related to the nervous system.
Sources of stem cells are:
- bone marrow, fragments of which are extracted by puncture;
- umbilical cord blood, which is drained from a cut umbilical cord immediately after the birth of a child;
- venous blood - it is taken with a syringe;
- abortion material;
- tissues and organs of people who have recently died, for example, as a result of an accident;
- a zygote formed by artificial insemination;
- adipose tissue.
In most cases, stem cell treatment is carried out using material extracted from cord blood, obtained as a result of abortion and from bone marrow. Other sources are used exclusively in research laboratories.
What diseases are treated by cell therapy?
What is the mechanism of cell therapy? Stem cells are introduced (doctors call this process transplantation) into the diseased organ or into the space near it. They begin to actively share, restoring damaged tissue or injury of the tissue and boosting immunity. As a result, the body heals itself.
The list of diseases, in the fight against which stem cell therapy is applied, is extensive. In the world, cell therapy is used for the following diseases:
However, do not considerstem cell therapyas a universal remedy for all diseases. According to doctors, until they found ways to defeat cancer using cell therapy (except for blood cancer, which can be cured by bone marrow transplantation), AIDS, cataracts, viral hepatitis, menopause and glaucoma.
Moreover, cell therapy, like any other, has a number of complications. First, cells often do not get into the right organ, and the therapeutic effect is reduced to zero. Secondly, despite serious training, cellular material is often rejected by the body, causing various immune reactions.And finally, thirdly, stem cell therapy can lead to the formation of a malignant tumor.
For ethical reasons and in the absence of full-scale studies, legislators have limited the use of this method. Thus, in Ukraine, the use of cellular therapy is allowed only in three cases: for the treatment of pancreatic necrosis (pancreatic tissue death), chronic limb ischemia (damage to the blood vessels of the arms and legs, leading to oxygen starvation of body parts) and severe burns that show skin grafts .
In Russia, the law on the use of biomedical cellular products was adopted quite recently - in June 2016, and as experts say, the results should be expected no earlier than 2019. What to expect from this legal act, see the video:
Myths and Truth about Stem Cells
Cell Biotechnology- a new word in medicine, and therefore around them there are many speculations. For example, a couple of years ago, cosmetics manufacturers launched a new line of anti-aging creams, which allegedly included stem cells. The customers were promised the acquisition of a second youth. However, in reality, the effect was no different from the action of conventional cosmetics.And everything is explained simply: stem cells in creams do not survive.
But if the manufacturers of cosmetics have damaged only the purse of gullible customers, the enterprising doctors, who quickly figured out how to get rich on human sorrow, threatened much more than the lives of unborn children.
Since embryonic and fetal cells are in the greatest demand, doctors started doing business on them. The scheme is simple: an absolutely healthy pregnant woman, under the pretext of having medical indications, was prescribed an abortion. Abortive material was withdrawn and was given to private clinics for big money. Read more about this in the video:
Both from the point of view of legislation prohibiting trafficking in human organs, and in the opinion of the Church, which believes that abortion is murder, doctors who commit such actions are criminals.
It is possible that this topic will soon exhaust itself, since the need to extract stem cells from embryos will disappear. In 2012, the Japanese scientist Yamanaka received the Nobel Prize for his discovery in the field of biomedicine.He found that by acting in a certain way on any cells of the human body, it is possible to return them to the state of the stem.
In the meantime, this technology is being developed and improved, try not to fall into the trap. If you are sent for an abortion for health reasons, check in another clinic - this will avoid a false diagnosis and save the child. Having given birth to a baby, demand to give you the umbilical cord and the blood contained in it. Now there are cryobanks in which you can save this cellular material, and who knows, maybe in the future it will save the lives of your children.