The Secret Of Stem Cell Therapy

The Secret Of Stem Cell Therapy

What is Stem cell therapy

A recent news reported scientists restoring the vision of two British patients by inserting a patch of embryonic stem cells to repair the damaged retina. The patients were reported to have age-related macular degeneration. More research is still required to confirm the treatment’s effectiveness. Nevertheless, the success of the procedure thus far is an indication of the effectiveness of the treatment administered. Another news reported a first ‘off-the-shelf’ cancer immunotherapy clinical trial underway in the United States. Researchers are testing a stem-cell derived natural killer cell immunotherapy. The trial stands out in that, it is the first trial in the US to use cells derived from induced Pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). The above are just two of the various applications of stem cell therapies. The world over, advanced trials are being undertaken to treat spinal cord injury, heart failure, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and lung cancer using stem cell therapy. The therapy’s most common application thus far was treating blood-related disorders only. However, the world is now set to witness a revolution in the medical field. Increasingly new applications of stem cell-based therapy are beginning to emerge.

So what are these stem cells? Why is this field of medicine so important?

Stem cells are undifferentiated or blank human cells and are the foundation for every organ and tissue of the human body. They are the body’s raw materials from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated. They can also divide in self-renewal to produce more of the same type of stem cells. In some cases, they can even repair damaged tissues. Owing to this distinctive feature, stem cells play a huge role in the body’s healing process. Stem cells have begun to be used as therapy. A lot of stem cell research is ongoing to find cures for dreaded diseases. Considerable breakthrough has already been made in harnessing the power of stem cell therapy.

Earlier, a stem cell transplant was called a bone marrow transplant as the stem cells were collected from the bone marrow. Nowadays, they are collected from blood and thus came to be known as stem cell transplants.

There is growing interest in stem cells owing to the possibility of:

Understanding how diseases occur

Generating healthy cells to replace diseased cells

Testing new drugs for safety and effectiveness

Stem cells are primarily sourced from:

Embryonic Stem Cells

Adult Stem Cells

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC) and

Perinatal Stem Cells

A stem cell transplant is a complicated and an emotionally draining procedure. It typically comprises of the following steps:

Tests and examinations – To assess the general level of health

Harvesting the stem cells either from one’s own body or from donor

Conditioning – Treatment to prepare one’s body for the transplant

Transplanting the harvested stem cells

Recovery – Time of the transplant to take effect

Given the importance of stem cells in the treatment of diseases, stem cell banking or preservation is the way ahead. A cord blood bank cryogenically preserves the stem cells from the extra blood of the umbilical cord of an infant and placenta post-delivery. With this, genetic, blood-related or oncological disorders can be treated. Thus, in case of contracting any debilitating disease, the treatment is readily available. Such preservation of the cord blood bank in private helps treat ailments within the family. However, it can be donated to a public facility for use by others too.

Stem Cell Therapy Treatments

Stem cell injections: A non-invasive procedure in the treatment of arthritis and tendinopathies is the administering of stem cell injections. Here, stem cells are injected into the area that needs healing. The body then naturally accelerates the healing process, thus repairing the damage. Owing to regenerative properties, healing takes place naturally

Stem cell knee injections: After harvesting adult stem cells from the bone marrow or fat, it is concentrated. Using image guidance, it is then injected into the knee. Stem cell therapy for the knee works by:

Growing into essential cartilage cells

Prohibiting the inflammation that can worsen arthritis

Releasing cytokines, a protein, that slows degeneration of cartilage and reduce pain

Stem cell therapy for back pain: Back and neck pain is often the result of degeneration of intervertebral discs function. The only solution is spinal fusion surgery and replacing the damaged discs with artificial ones. However, with bioengineered intervertebral discs made out of an individual's own stem cells, cure is at hand.

Causes & Symptoms of Stem Cell Therapy

A stem cell transplant is an infusion of healthy stem cells. It is necessitated when one’s bone marrow stops functioning and doesn’t produce enough healthy blood cells. A transplant offers some patients the possibility of a cure and others a longer period of survival. It is necessitated when:

A person is diagnosed with either a malignant or benign type of cancer

The body cannot make the blood cells it needs because the bone marrow or stem cells have failed.

To replace diseased blood cells with healthy stem cells

To replenish lost stem cells due to radiation or chemotherapy

Cost of Treatment

Even as stem cell is an emerging area of treatment, India offers the procedures at very economic rates. A cross-country comparison enables one understand the cost differentials

Stem Cell Therapy : Cross-country Comparison

Type Stem Cell Therapy USA UK India Thailand Singapore
Adult Stem Cell Therapy $10,000 $8,000 $5,000 $6,500 $7,500
Fetal Stem Cell Therapy $15,000 $12,000 $7,000 $8,800 $10,500
Cord Blood Stem Cell Therapy $12,000 $9,600 $6,000 $7,500 $9,000
Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy $13,000 $10,500 $6,300 $7,800 $9,500
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapy $16,000 $13,000 $7,200 $9,000 $11,000

Some of the hospitals offering treatment in India are:

Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai

Fortis Healthcare, Multi-state

Dheeraj Bojwani, Consultants, Bangalore

Apollo Hospitals, Multi-state

GNRC Hospitals, Dispur


As a critically acclaimed field, stem cell therapy continues to make rapid strides. The therapy has widespread applications already. While clinical use may be a few years away, nevertheless, stem cells continue to fascinate scientists. Indeed, it is a miracle that a part of the human body helps heal the human body itself. Regenerative medicine is THE future of medicine.

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