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The Future of Stem Cells

The Future of Stem Cell

Bioengineering with biological scaffolds

Each and every day, thousands of surgeries are performed to repair or replace damaged tissues; due to diseases, injuries or trauma. However, with the conceptual applications of stem cells based therapies, it has been observed that these lost cells can be regenerated or repaired, without much hassles of surgeries and/or organ donations. Parallel to the advancements of stem cells based therapies; their applications in tissue engineering as biological scaffolds are attracting many scientists, who wish to mimic the nature as it is.

In the recent years, major breakthroughs have taken place in creating tissue engineered organs; such as skin, bladder, airway, etc. Although, amniotic membrane obtained from extra embryonic fetal tissues of the humans can act as a naturally derived biomaterial, possessing great biological, supportive and mechanical properties that are important for tissue engineering.

Although revolutionary, it is also to be noted that amniotic membrane have been used in the medicine for more than 100 years, with its first successful application reported in 1910, for management of severe skin burns and hard to heal wounds such as diabetic foot. Studies so far have confirmed exclusive properties of amniotic membranes such as anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-scarring, etc.

The above observations, could lead to the successful utilization of these frozen amniotic membranes, as biological dressings in wounds, ophthalmology and some of the common problems such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome; along with the infusion of stem cells to maximise the outcome. The auto as well as allo implantation of these amniotic membranes, along with the infusion of stem cells can definitely meet the expectations of scar less surface regeneration; which is required in case of burns, ulcers and ocular surface healing.

Thus, considering the appealing biocompatibility and bioactivity of amniotic membranes, their applications as a novel biocomposite material along with the use of mesenchymal stem cells can be a rocking combination to enhance guaranteed tissue regeneration with the customization possibilities. The use of this technology could be adopted in the field of cosmetics, ophthalmology and other common conditions listed above.

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An Unexpected Breakthrough

An Unexpected Breakthrough

Stem cells and their applications in treatment have been proposed as the major breakthrough of the decade. More and more data has been published, proving the two remarkable abilities of stem cells. First, these cells can be maintained in their immature state for more than 20 years; as done in the banking and second is that, they can be channelized with the help of proper stimulation to be specialized cells, on demand.

Thus, the rationale has raised the hopes of millions, who are suffering from many crippling disorders.

Many of these degenerative disorders are as a result of loss of cellular function, in particular organ. Each organ or tissue is made up of millions of cells, which are working continuously for undisturbed functions; that we are doing. Daily our body has to go through lot of trauma or damage to keep us going. Many tissue specific cells go dead in routine wear and tear of the body, which are produced again; with the help of resident stem cells quota of that organ. However, in case of diseased conditions; the loss of cells is so big that the substantial amount of production, metabolic or accuracy issue arises; risking the life of an individual to a significant level.

Historically, oral medications were available to manage the diseases; organs were donated to replace failing systems and surgeries were opted to repair the damage. In case of organ donation, the need far outweighs the supply; whereas for rest of the options, the cost and the side effects are too high, limiting their effectiveness as well as feasibility.

Stem cells can however do all this, very naturally and effectively; as they are like demographic leaders, they can be effectively used of the human body, by the body and for the body. Thus, the concept of stem cells based therapy is to repair, replace or supplement damaged or dead cells with the healthy ones; when the former are functionally lost in diseased condition.

The understanding of human biology and how we are allowed to live, breathe, think and create is still quite limited. It took almost more than 200 years to understand that we all human beings are made up of trillions of active cells, after the first discovery of a concept of a cell.

Comparatively stem cells concept is new, but still more than 5000 research articles are already published and more than 200 worldwide clinical trials are already on their way of completion; this shows, the amount of scientific and technical involvement and a need of time in augmenting such a breakthrough!

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Sources Of Adult Stem Cells

Sources of adult Stem cell

The adult stem cells, justifying their name are found to be undifferentiated cells; which are present as a reserved quota in different mature organs throughout the body and are found to be replenishing dying cells and regenerating damaged ones.

In the past decades, the several ways of isolating adult somatic cells are being actively explored from many studies. Depending upon the tissue type, adult stem cells are isolated from adult grown body.

From your own body

Some of the well known sources of adult stem cells, commonly used for autologous infusion are known to be bone marrow, fat, dental pulp, peripheral blood, etc. Stem cells can be isolated from these sources and can be infused back in the same donor to channelize them at the site of injury. These sources are known to be the good sources of mesenchymal stem cells; which can make cells of bone, cartilages, fat, connective tissues, brain, etc.

However, the main problem in use of these sources are that, being mature sources, the number of stem cells isolated is very less; generally insufficient to be exploited for their therapeutic applications. On the contrary they can be offered in combination to initiate strong regeneration.

From the pluripotent stem cells

Recently scientists are being able to produce pluripotent stem cells from variety of different types of adult stem cells that are functionally similar to embryonic stem cells. Research is ongoing to prepare these induced pluripotent stem cells for therapeutic applications; although the research is still in its nascent phase and would need large number of clinical trials before being implemented practically.

From extra embryonic fetal tissues

Recently stem cells isolated from extra embryonic fetal tissues such as cord blood, tissue, amniotic membrane has been a widely accepted concept with due regards to its safety and feasibility. These are the broad stem cell class, with the recent history and can be isolated from the supportive extra embryonic tissues, which are generally discarded after the birth of a baby. These stem cells are found to be very appealing due to their easy isolation, ready availability and ethical exemption.

These extra embryonic tissues, as stem cells reservoirs, offer many advantages over there other counterparts; as these cells can be isolated from the child’s afterbirth and hence pose minimum risk to the child for their extraction, these cells are locked in their youngest form other than embryonic cells and hence are putative in nature with the unrestricted potency to form variety of cells, these cells can as well be saved with the recent advancements for the child’s future and the most significant of all, there can be increase number of stem cells isolation, which is sufficient for their therapeutic applications.

Thus, the versatility displayed by stem cells isolated from extra embryonic tissues is encouraging over their other counterparts and hence may represent a novel source as a revolutionizing medicine to treat variety of diseases.

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Applications of Stem Cells

Applications of Stem Cell

Treatment using stem cells based preparation, has been continued to be an extremely active area. Scientists believe that it is very important to explore different cell infusion pathways so as to attain maximum benefit from stem cells. From the studies so far, many vistas of adult stem cells based therapies could be identified, some of their applications can be:

Vascular Diseases

Stem cells are known to be the better long term prospects for many cardio-vascular diseases, which are known to be the leading cause of death among global developed populations. In the recent trials, the regeneration of stem cells in the cardiomyocytes has confirmed in the patients, opening doors to the successful treatments. Mesenchymal stem cells isolated from extra embryonic tissues, can be promising candidates due to their large number and easy adaptability in vascular environment to promote faster regeneration.

Neurological Diseases

Stem cells applications have as well shown very encouraging results in neurological diseases. Various studies and clinical trials have confirmed that adult stem cells isolated from various mature tissues, can form a protective environment for motor neuron; linking them up for easy restoration of neural functions. Besides, various other small scale trials have underpinned the fact that these mesenchymal stem cells, isolated from extra embryonic stem cells are pluripotent in nature with the good rate of differentiating them into neuronal origin.

Eye Problems

Currently many people are searching, whether stem cells have applications in eye disorder. Apparently, the degenerative eye conditions cannot be reversed; stem cells treatment for reversing the eye damage or stopping the progression can be indeed an appealing idea. Studies have confirmed their assured potency to differentiate into wide range of cells to repair the eyes. On the contrary, the repair of the cornea through stem cells based therapy is highly successful with many satisfied patients.

Metabolic Disorders

Stem cells have as well proved to be the most trusted options in treating metabolic disorders such as liver problems, diabetes, etc. for which so far no treatment is available that can alter the condition. Since these mesenchymal stem cells are immunomodulators, they have observed to be regulating patient’s immune system to beat the pressure of autoimmunity and immune rejections.

Orthopaedic Problems

Application of stem cells stimulated with patients own platelet rich plasma, has been widely acclaimed treatment in the orthopaedics. Medical fraternity as well showed the wide interest in implementing these treatment options as part of their routine investigations due to their effectiveness, low risk and ease of availability.

Thus, it is very important to increase the awareness regarding stem cells treatments. Many doctors argue that new treatments have to be urgently channelized as rapidly as possible for many devastating conditions.