Stem cell therapy is the application of genetically engineered stem cell technology to treat or prevent an disease. The only current treatment using genetically engineered stem cells is embryonic stem cell transplantation. This usually is done as an umbilical cord-blood transplant, but the stem cells can also be obtained from umbilical cord plasma. Because there are a number of concerns regarding stem cell treatments, it is often times recommended that you seek out the advice of a professional genealogist prior to undergoing any stem cell treatment. Although some concerns have been raised about the ethical implications of embryonic stem cells, studies show that these procedures carry very little risk and a lot of children have experienced successful treatment of their genetic disorders with stem cells.
Scientists have discovered that stem cells can be transplanted in conjunction with other patients. The patient’s capacity and willingness to take on the pressure of ongoing treatment is key to the success of this transplant. Researchers have been able to treat some patients with one transplant. Then, they gave the patient one dose of chemotherapy. Researchers have discovered that chemotherapy drugs can be affected by a person’s tolerance to stress. Because of this, researchers are currently evaluating more cancer-fighting medications for combination use.
Scientists aren’t done stem cell transplants as of yet. They are also looking into other ways to use genetically engineered blood to treat chronic illnesses such as leukemia and multiple sclerosis. Stem cells are basically living tissue that has been “re-engineered to repair and replace damaged parts of the body. The donor skin or bone-marrow is a good source to provide an increased supply of stem cells to the area that is most in need.
In addition to using stem cell transplants, scientists are investigating other treatments that utilize specialized, specially bred cells. One group is studying the effects of high radiation doses on pregnant mice. The radiation was not given to the mice however they were exposed to very high levels of radiation. The mice survived, but only for short durations. Because these cells are not well tolerated by the body, it may require several months of therapy before the mice are healed.
Scientists are also studying the effectiveness of immune system boosters that mix stem cell treatments and immune system enhancements. One of the most well-known types of immune system boosters is a substance called interferon. Interferon can be used to treat many kinds of cancers, including blood and lymph cancers. Researchers believe that stem cell therapies may have side effects that can be mitigated by boosting the immune system.
Scientists are also investigating the effect of diet in slowing the process of aging. They are studying diets that contain ingredients that aid in the creation of healthy cells. These include antioxidants, which are substances that help in the production of healthy cells. When they are produced by our bodies, these antioxidants can repair tissue damage. Researchers are currently studying lecithin and phytosterols and lipoic acid.
Of course, scientists have not fully mastered the exact consequences of stem cell transplants. Researchers know that transplants are performed at a lower rate than what would be required to treat severe heart diseases. Scientists can see the overall positive effects for patients if they are able to create an exercise program, diet, transplant that will result in a more youthful, healthier heart. Stem cell transplants are an effective treatment option because it can provide patients with an opportunity to live their lives again.
Other researchers are researching methods that are less drastic using techniques that are similar to therapeutic cloning. This is a case in which there is no human contact between the donor and recipient. Cloning involves taking DNA from other people and introducing the nucleus of these cells into the egg of the recipient. If this method is successful, could be used to generate the cells needed to boost the immune system.
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