Stem Cell Therapy
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Table of Contents
Stem cells were first discovered in 1950 during an experiment on bone marrows by a group of physicians. (Academics, 2018, p. 2). This has triggered an interest in bone marrow transplantation, which today has given hope to the medical technicians the possibility of the body regenerating cells to replace the old or damaged ones.
Humans have long been fascinated by the importance of stem cells and how they can help treat some life-threatening diseases we face today. Things have gone really good as scientists have discovered incredible superpowers of some species of jellyfish, which possess cell regeneration capability to keep them immortal. This is a mind-blowing discovery and a one-step to knowing that most of these diseases can be treated if we fully understand how these cells work.
Well, the question is, how does this benefit humans? When jellyfish becomes sick or old, its body begins to fail. At this point, it calls up its magical power of cell regeneration, which allows it to have a new body to continue life. The cell changes to different types through cell transdifferentiation, making it possible to produce an entirely new body.
Most of their experiments and findings were on animals and not humans. Currently, there is no link to regeneration in human organs, as seen in jellyfish. However, something close can be found in humans to how body wounds heal. Scientists have been trying to decipher the brain behind cell regeneration and its exceptional properties. However, research is still ongoing on how this specialized cell can be used for cell-based therapies in treating diseases.
STEM CELL OVERVIEW
According to Rudolph Virchow, "Every cell is a product of one or more cells." After successfully discovering the importance of regeneration, scientists researched and discovered a similar cell in an embryo. The research shows that the cell from an embryo known as pluripotent stem cells can produce every other cell in the body. These cells were obtained from a 4-5 old blastocyst from the human body created through in-vitro fertilization (ISSCR, 2017, p. 2).
The knowledge on stem cells continues to blow the mind of every individual on how cells are formed and how they can replace damaged tissues. The research on stem cells is an exciting area in scientific discoveries as it continues to raise questions daily.
Further research is ongoing to determine how stem cells can cure diseases like cancer, spinal cord injuries, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and many more.
Scientists believe by creating a stem cell-based therapy will help those in the medical field treat the above diseases and many more in the future. They are also improving in their research to discover new information on the biology of the human body
Recently, scientists recreate blood-brain barrier defect outside the human body that functioned as it would be in the cell donor. The achievement provides a new way to make discoveries about brain disorder and potentially predict the drug which will work best for an individual patient
WHAT ARE STEM CELLS
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that divide into many cells to form different organs of the body. Every cell in the human body can be traced back to a fertilized egg, formed from the union of the sperm and the female egg. This fertilized egg or zygote is a single cell that has not differentiated and has the capacity to divide itself into numerous copies.
This single cell gives rise to the entire organs in the body, such as the heart, lungs, and other specialized cell types and tissues. Stem cell in adult tissues such as the muscle, the brain, and bone marrows is necessary for the regeneration of cells lost through wears, injury, or disease.
The human body comprises over 200 different types of cells that specialize in performing different functions. The various types of the cell come from a pool of stem cells found in an embryo during the early development or later in life.
Stem cells are characterized by their ability to renew and divide themselves. - these unique characteristics make them essential in the growth and development, and repair of human brains, blood skin, and other organs in the human body.
TYPES OF STEM CELL
Stem cells are found in every human from the early stage of their life to the day he dies. So far, stem cells have been proven helpful in the medical field. However, the different types of stem cells have both advantages and disadvantages in the human body.
They are several types of stem cell located in the different parts of the body, formed at different stages of our lives.
Recently, scientist discovered that stem cell is present in the blood of an umbilical cord of a baby and placenta of a baby. They believed could yield different blood cell in the body
Embryonic Stem Cell
Embryonic stem cells are cells developed in the earliest developing stage of an embryo. They occur right before the implementation in the uterus. They occur few days after fertilization, which happens when the embryo splits as it travels from the oviduct to the uterus.
Each cell that results after the split (blastomeres) does not look or act like the specialized cell of an adult. Also, each of these cells can reproduce to any cell in the body. (Thomson, 2006). They can either be unipotent, pluripotent, multipotent, or totipotent
In the development cycle of the blastocyst, it attaches itself to the uterus wall and continues to develop and mature into an organism. At this stage, the outer cell will start forming the placenta, and the inner cell will divide itself into a specialized cell to form a different cell in the human body.Non-Embryonic Stem Cell
The non-embryonic stem cells are also known as adult stem cells or somatic stem cells. These stem cells are undifferentiated cells found in the entire human body after development has occurred, such as the lungs, skin, and bone marrow. They are responsible for replenishing dying cells and regenerating damaged tissues. They can be found in adult animals and humans, unlike embryonic cells found in the embryo.
This form of cell formation only has a small number of cells in their tissue. An Adult stem can either be a multipotent or unipotent stem cell and can divide into different cells. The majority of the adult stem cell resides in the bone marrow (Józef Dulak, 2015). The brain, skeletal muscle, liver, fat have shown to possess stem and a progenitor cell that can differentiate and transdifferentiate into different cells outside their original tissue (Mummery, 2003). Most adult stem cells have currently been used in genetic therapy, such as epidermolysis bullosa. (Prentice, 2015)
Lately, scientists have proven that the stem cell from adult mice is capable of producing liver, heart, and skin cells, but this research has not been demonstrated on human cell, but it is believed that scientists are working in other to stimulate adult stem cell
CHARACTERISTICS OF AN EMBRYONIC STEM CELL
Embryonic stem cells can be characterized by their two distinctive properties: pluripotency and the ability to replicate themselves indefinitely.
Embryonic cells are pluripotent, meaning they can divide themselves into the three germ layers: the endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm layers. for toxicology testing
The pluripotency of a cell is what distinguishes the embryonic stem cell and the adult cell. While the embryonic stem cell can reproduce lots of cells in the human body, the adult cell produces few cells.
Embryonic stem cells have the ability to propagate themselves indefinitely; this makes them very useful in research and a medical laboratory for experimental purposes.
Their plasticity and the unlimited ability for self-renewal help in their medical department helps in generating cures for sicknesses such as cancer and spinal cord injury and replacement of damaged tissues. The handy feature of embryonic cells makes it easy to study human development, genetic diseases, and in vitro systems.
SOURCES OF STEM CELL Through In-Vitro Fertilization
Vitro fertilization, also known as IVF, is a successful way to assist reproductive technology on childbearing issues. This is one of the methods of fertilizing a female egg by a male sperm in a medical laboratory under the assistance of artificial intelligence.
The term "In-Vetro" is a Latin word that means "the use of glass." It involves carrying out the cultivation of tissues outside the original host in a glass. (Emeka, 2013)
When IVF is used for reproductive reasons, doctors fertilize the whole eggs to increase the chances of producing a healthy blastocyst that will be implemented in the womb for growth. By trying to improve the chances of fertilization, the physician will have to fertilize the whole eggs, resulting in fertilizing much egg, which becomes a blastocyst.
Till today, they are hundreds of hospitals around the world where blastocysts are being kept. This is a problem while dealing with some specific diseases transmitted from the sperm of the contaminated person to the egg, but with the use of IVF, the actual cause of a disease might not be possible to ascertain.
These processes include monitoring and simulating the eggs in the ovaries, collecting the eggs and combining them with the male sperm and allowing fertilization to occur, and allowing the growth of the embryo to occurThrough Nuclear Transfer
Nucleus transfer offers a way to produce embryonic stem cells. It was first performed in animals by removing the nucleus of an already differentiated adult cell to a donated egg with no nucleus.
The egg, which now holds the genetic properties of the adult cell, is then stimulated to form blastocyst from which embryonic stem cells can be derived. Stem cell formed through this process holds the same nuclear DNA of the adult cell.
So far, the nuclear transfer has not been successful in the production of human stem cells, but scientists believe that they may be able to produce human stem cells through nuclear transfer in the future. (Academics, 2018).Through Adult Stem Cell
Adult stem cells can also be referred to as somatic stem cells, and they are responsible for replenishing dying cells and regenerating damaged tissues. They can be found in adult animals and humans, unlike embryonic cells found in the embryo.
MESENCHYMAL STEM CELL
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are multipotent stromal cells that differentiate into different cell types during development. These type of cells are necessary for the formation of osteoblast (bone cells), chondrocyte (cartilage cell), myocyte(muscle cell), and adipocyte (a fat cell that gives rise to marrow adipose tissue) (Imran Ullah, 2015)
This type of cell is one of the most exploited cells in the medical field for many clinical applications. Many scientists have experimented with the positive impact of cell therapy and leaving behind the negative impact, affecting stem treatment (Katarzyna Drela, 2019). Mesenchymal cells are non-hematopoietic stromal cells capable of differentiating into different cells and regenerating their tissues like bone, cartilage, muscle, ligament, etc. MSC is low in the bone marrow, and they represent 1 out of 10 000 nucleated cells (Sylvestar Darvin Sandhaanam, 2013). The mesenchymal cells are studied due to their potential to regenerate into different cells.
Mesenchymal stem cells in the body can be activated and mobilized when needed though the efficiency is low. For instance, damage to muscles heals very slowly, but further research is ongoing to improves its efficiency.STEM CELL TREATMENTS
Stem cell therapy refers to the use of stem cells in the treatment of various diseases. The most commonly used therapy is the bone marrow, but also therapies derived from the umbilical cord are used. The treatment is done by inducing a stem cell into a specific cell type which is required to repair damaged tissues. The use of blood stem cells has a promising feature in the treatment of various blood-related diseases. T
his therapy has saved thousands of lives, and it continues to prove its importance in the treatment of eye surface, skin, bone, and spinal cord injuries. Currently, very few stem cells therapy has been proven to be safe and effective.
The most effective and proven treatment using stem cells is in hematopoietic (blood) stem transplant. The medical department widely accepts this procedure as safe; all other treatments are considered as a risk.
FUTURE TREATMENT OF PARKINSON DISEASE
When an action is performed, for instance, trying to lift a book from the shelf, the body acts in a controllable way which helps the action be carried out. What the body does is, once you think of grabbing an object, the nerve cells responsible for that action sends information from the brain to the muscles needed to perform those actions. For the action to be precise and accurate, then the nerve cells must be functioning correctly. Once these nerve cells are damaged, it results in the uncontrollable movement of parts of the body.
Since Parkinson's diseases occur due to some damaged nerve cells, stem cells offer an excellent chance for treatment. They have successfully transplanted the adult stem cell of a rat to its brain. When this is proven to be safe in humans, scientists could offer hope for those with Parkinson's disease.
Currently, conventional therapy for Parkinson's disease is the use of levodopa, a drug used to stimulate dopamine production in some specific neurons associated with the body's mobility. (Sandoiu, 2019). However, this drug has been proven to have both physiological and psychological side effects.
So far, there is no cure for Parkinson's disease because no one has figured a way to regenerate the specialized nerve cells that have died. (ErinC, 2019)
SAFETY OF USING OWN CELL
Cells from your own body are automatically healthy stem cells while retaining your body to make new healthy cells after the high-dose treatment.
This procedure also helps in curing lymphomas and preventing other diseases from reappearing after therapy but can be used in curing non-neoplastic congenital blood diseases
safe for use. The theory has proven that your immune system will not attack your cell if used for transplant. The use of own cell for transplant is called an autologous transplant. However, this could carry some risk through which those cells are grown and reintroduced into the body. Such risk includes virus contamination when they are removed and reintroduced back to the body; cell manipulation could affect cell growth and mistakes that could arise during injection of those cells in the body. (Malignancies, 2018)
Autologous transplant (Stem cell rescue) can mostly be done in the bone marrow. This type of transplant helps to eliminate the neoplastic cells from the body using high dose chemotherapy combined with radiotherapy to recover the functions of the bone marrow and, after that, introduce your stem cell. (Berlanga, 2018).
High-dose chemotherapy and radiotherapy help kill cancerous cells, but using high-dose chemotherapy alone will destroy cancerous cells and healthy cells, leaving you with no cells to make new ones. (Association, 2016) Chemotherapy is best used on cells that divide quickly. So it is better to receive a transplant with your own
STEM CELL BANKING
Stem cell banking is a facility that stores stem cells for future use. Stem cells giving by individuals or by families are stored for use by that individual from whom the cell is collected, and such individuals are charged for cell banking. The cell can only be retrieved by the person or his first blood relative.
In the case of a mother banking a stem cell of her child, the right can be passed down to the child when he/she grows of age. Until that, the mother has the right to the stem cell.
The umbilical cord fluid of a child is loaded with stem cells, which are ten times more stem cells when compared to the ones gotten from bone marrows. These stem cells can be banked for future use when diseases like cancer, anemia, and immune system disorder arise. It follows a simple process: umbilical blood extraction by a physician, testing, and if viable, then banking.
Chord banking can be stored in a public bank and made available for use to anyone worldwide or stored in a private bank and only made available to the family for autologous use. Most of the stem cell stored in a bank is used for hematopoietic sperm cell transplantation and are only made available in the public bank. There is also a director donor program which is offered by both public and private banks. They store cord blood for public use. They also accept donations reserved for families in a case of a disease outbreak that requires a stem cell transplant. No fee is charged in this method of banking.
Not all cord blood is fit for use; some are contaminated or do not have enough cells in them. Over 70% of cord blood does not meet the necessary criteria for banking. (Sue, 2016)
The cost of banking in a public bank is entirely free (collecting, processing, and banking). In contrast, private could cost from $1400 to $2300 (collecting, processing, registration) and an additional cost of $95 to $125 per year for storing.
WHY SCIENTISTS ARE INTERESTED IN STEM CELL RESEARCH
Currently, few diseases can be treated with stem cell therapy because scientists could only regenerate few tissues. Most established cell therapists like the blood and skin transplant give hope to the future generation that scientists will develop stem cell therapists for those previously incurable diseases one day.
The acute medical condition occurs due to abnormal division of cells. Better research and understanding of cells will give an insight into those diseases and could give results to possible solutions to these diseases
Though more research is still needed before cell therapies can become part of regular medical practice. Doctors hope that one day,
cell technology will revolutionize to provide a new form of treating diseases or maybe provide a self-healing body.POSSIBLE CURE TO DIABETES
The American diabetes association's primary mission is to "prevent and cure diabetic patients and improve the lives of those affected" (John B. Buse, 2009).
People who have type 1 diabetes have their beta cells of the pancreas destroyed by the patient's overactive immune system. These cells are responsible for producing insulin; without the insulin, the cells in the body cannot take up glucose anymore and, therefore, starve to death.
People who have diabetes have to be injected with insulin a couple of times a day to keep the cells alive. Dietary treatment and oral hypoglycemic therapy are also methods through which diabetes can be treated. (Alwan, 1994) Dietary treatment is the basis for managing diseases. Treatment alone cannot be sufficient, except adequate attention is given for ensuring an appropriate diet.
Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are both caused by either the partial or complete loss of the beta-cell number and function. The only way to successfully cure diabetes is to find a way to replace these cells (Association A. D., 2018).
Though there is a new type of diabetes discovered by some scientists in the university of survey called Type3c, and it is said to be commonly misdiagnosed with type2 diabetes
CANCER AND ITS DAMAGES
Cancer is a disease in which abnormal growth of cells divides and destroys the body tissues. They are over 100 different types of cancer; some cause rapid cell growth, while others cause cells to grow and differentiate slowly.
Cells naturally die to enable the body to replenish the old cell with a new one with better functionality, more like an upgrade in our system. This natural phenomenon is called apoptosis. The cancerous cells lack the ability to stop dividing and die to enable new cells to grow. As a result of this, they build up in the body, using oxygen and nutrients necessary to grow other cells.
According to WHO, cancer is the leading cause of death, accounting for almost 7.4 million deaths in 2004. (WHO, 2010)
The cancerous cell was first discovered in 1977 by a research group at the University of Toronto. They transferred the stem cell of human leukemia to a mouse and watched the leukemia cell developed into a mouse. (Academics, 2018)
ETHICAL IMPLICATION OF CELL
In the process of stem cell research, stem cells are extracted from the blastocysts. So this destroys the human embryo.
Whether or not stem cells are used in research, medical therapy raises some ethical issues on the use of stem cells.
Though there is no stand on whether it is ethical or not, many researchers have adopted the process appropriate in the conduct of embryonic stem in research, which they believed is for the benefit of the general public while some consider it unethical.
This led to the main question. Is an embryo a person?
IS EMBRYO A PERSON?
The controversies surrounding embryonic stem cell research have led many scholars to dapple into their view on the embryo. On the other hand, some considered an embryo to be a cell mass with no more value than other biological cells or tissues. Others considered an embryo as a person; with the same status as a full-fledged human.
Some hold a ground view that they consider moral values to be a continuous process. So, therefore, an embryo acquires its moral values as it develops.
Several religious groups are involved in an internal discussion on the status of a human embryo. However, no opinions have been reached. It is seen that public opinions poll suggest that most Christians and non-Christians in America support the use of embryo stem cells for research purposes.
LATEST DISCOVERIES ON STEM CELL
Scientists cannot make a living copy of the brain outside the human body. However, in a new study, they recreated a critical brian component, the blood-brain barrier, that functioned as it would in the cell donor. Their idea was to provide the best way to make discoveries on brain disorders and possibly predict drugs that will be more effective for a specific individual.
Another recent study aimed to target an essential gene before birth, which could someday help treat down syndrome by reversing abnormal embryonic brain development and improving cognitive functions after birth. (ScienceDaily, 2019)
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania have recreated embryonic conditions at break sites which could help bones heal faster.
They developed a unique technique that uses stem cells and flexible implantable bone-stabilizing plates to help speed the healing of more substantial breaks or defects. (ScienceDaily, 2019)
Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital have identified a new stem that significantly improves cardiac function. (ScienceDaily, 2019)
A research team at the University of Chicago has developed a process that enables 3D printing of biological tissues without scaffolding using ink made up of only stem cells (ScienceDaily, 2019).
Researchers at the Rice University advanced gene-editing techniques to help patients with sickle cell disease discover an unexpected boost in fetal hemoglobin production, which mutes the effect of the disease. (ScienceDaily, 2019)
Researchers in the Luxembourg Institute of Health shows that cancers cells glioblastomas- conspicuously aggressive solid brain tumors- manifest developmental plasticity, and their phenotype characteristics are less constrained than believed (ScienceDaily, 2019)
Scientists in the children's hospital show how stem cell therapy can be used to save babies with severe intestinal issues. Babies who are born prematurely often face severe medical challenges. So this newly developed therapy could go a long way in helping these babies(ScienceDaily, 2019)
Stem cells are crucial in human life. They represent an exciting area in medicine because of their potential to regenerate and repair damaged tissues. Some conventional therapies, such as bone marrow transplantation, already use stem cells to regenerate their damaged tissues. Scientists are still experimenting on the possibility of other stem cell therapy in treating diseases that are considered incurable.
The study of stem cells has created the basis for a better understanding of the process involved in the development of humans and the exciting features they offer in treating a variety of diseases.
However, the research in stem cell, especially that of the embryonic stem cell, which involves destroying the days-old embryo, has become an everyday discussion in society among Christians and non-Christians
Some consider it unethical, while others say it is ethical since it involves saving human life. Current studies on stem cells around the globe are only a first step towards discovering therapies that could end life-threatening diseases because of their features.
However, the difficulty of producing large quantities of stem cells and the ability to form tumors after transplant remain an issue but the pay-off on the few diseases it cures still holds great importance in society.
Ethical issues regarding the use of stem cells need to be addressed before they can safely be used in the medical field.
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