Regenerative medicine, popularly known as stem cell therapy, makes use of stem cells or its derivatives to repair diseased or dysfunctional tissues, for example, in cancer. Regenerative medicine is known as the next-generation of treatment in medicine and they hold a lot of promise in the treatment of extremely diseased cases.
Stem cells are defined as the group of cells that descend from an original stem cell. Cells growing from a stem cell line do not differentiate into specialized cells.
The Origin of Stem Cells
Embryonic Stem Cells – These stem cells are obtained from the growing embryo in its blastocystic stage (3-5 days old) and are very limited in number (around 150 cells). These stem cells are highly effective in treating almost any degenerative disorder.
Adult Stem Cells – These are found in the bone marrow of the adults and are limited in its ability to regenerate into specialized cells, but however are easier to obtain, when compared to embryonic stem cells which are limited in number.
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells – These stem cells have been generated from the adult stem cells to have the regenerative properties of the embryonic stem cells by the laboratorists to generate stem cells in large numbers.
Perinatal Stem Cells – These are the stem cells found in the amniotic fluid besides that found in the umbilical cord blood. They have the same regenerative property of the blastocystic embryonic stem cells.
Stem cells can be used to replace diseased and dysfunctional tissues of the heart, muscles, blood cells as well as nerve cells. For instance, if a person has a heart disease, the stem cells are injected into the defective heart muscle. The stem cells then contribute into repairing the defective heart muscles.
In the present scenario, doctors have already acquainted with bone marrow transplants in cases where the cells are damaged by treatments like radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Doctors use either adult stem cells or umbilical cord blood.
Controversies in the area of Regenerative Medicine
Regenerative medicine has become controversial in the case of embryonic stem cell collection because that is possible only in case of in vitro fertilization. Some scientists vote for the opinion that those stem cells are essential for the embryo in its growth process. Some scientists develop embryos only for the purpose of collecting embryonic stem cells after which the blastocyst is discarded, which by the opinion of those supporting pro-life, is literally killing the embryo for treatments.
The reason why adult stem cells are not preferred in the area of regenerative medicine is because they have been exposed to environmental toxins.
However, on the whole, the area of regenerative medicine is all the more a very promising area of treatment, especially in the case of diseases which have absolutely no cure.