Stem cell research is a process that has been shrouded in controversy, but a lot of people don’t really know or understand the process involved in using stem cells to treat different diseases. Stem cell therapy has a multitude of potential benefits in the treatment of a wide variety of health issues; the Stem Cell Institute offers stem cell therapy to treat a number of chronic pain conditions, so we want you to know the basic ins and outs of stem cell research and treatments.
Stems Cells Have the Capability of Reproduction
Stem cells are cells that have the capability of reproducing through division, with the ability to develop into cells specific to a certain organ or tissue. Because of this ability, the cells can be designated to work on a specific area. Once designated, they will work on special functions for that part of the body.
Stem cell therapy uses these flexible cells to treat and prevent a condition by using the production of cells through division to replace damaged or non-functioning cells. This seems very positive and straightforward, so why aren’t stem cell treatments more prevalent? It’s because of the task at hand for the researchers working on these treatments: developing treatments is a tedious job.
First and foremost, researchers much get the stem cells to specialize into those cells that we mentioned earlier to do a specific job. This is the biggest hurdle in the process. When stem cells grow in a developing embryo, they receive a series of signals from surrounding tissue. In a lab, these signals must be mimicked perfectly, and if they end up in the wrong order or dose, the tissues may remain immature or become a cell type that was not originally intended.
Once they finally obtain a matured cell, researchers must decide whether or not those cells can function in an actual body and integrate without issue. To figure this out, they must develop an animal model of the human disease and then implant the cells to study whether or not they are beneficial to treatment. They have to test in multiple different animal models, since the animal versions of diseases do not always mimic the human disease. Additionally, researchers must examine all possible outcomes. For example, the treatment that they developed may not completely cure the disease, but they must still assess if it has positive benefits that make it s worthwhile option.
Stem Cells and the FDA
On top of all of this, the FDA has a set of standards called good manufacturing practice conditions in which scientists must manufacture their cell lines. These standards are implemented so that each group of cells produced is grown in an identical, repeatable, and sterile environment. This is to guarantee that each batch has the same properties.
The most widely used stem cell treatment to date is bone marrow transplantation. This is a common procedure and has helped thousands of people with cancers of the blood like leukemia. There are many clinical trials for embryonic stem cell based therapies, but with the restrictions and difficulty in research that we’ve outlined above, it’s hard to get these therapies approved for public use.
The Stem Cell Institute treats a variety of chronic pain conditions with stem cell therapy. Call today to learn more or schedule an appointment.