Adult Stem Cells – The Building Blocks of Regenerative Medicine

Adult stem cells can be found and isolated from several different adult tissue types including but not limited to: bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, dental pulp tissue, adipose (fat) tissue, menstrual blood, synovial fluid etc. The stem cells isolated from these adult tissues have the ability to differentiate (mature into) numerous other cell types giving them the potential to treat a variety of different disease states.

Stem cells from bone marrow and umbilical cord blood have been used extensively in the clinical arena for more than 20 years to treat a variety of diseases, in fact today approximately 80 different diseases can be treated with umbilical cord blood, i.e. cancers, blood disorders like anemia, metabolic disorders etc. The clinical applications of umbilical cord blood has been growing by leaps and bounds considering 20 years ago it was thought that cord blood can be used to treat only a handful of different diseases. The other sources of these cells have recently been discovered and are being tested in a multitude of clinical trials including Type I Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, MS, heart attack, stroke as well as cosmetic applications.

The amazing thing about these cells, aside from their potential to treat a variety of different diseases, is that for the most part they can be harvested from the individual through relatively minimally invasive procedures and can be cryogenically frozen (at a temperature of -321 F) and stored for decades until a disease manifests or they are needed for cell-based therapies. There are numerous stem cell banks all over the United States, i.e. GeneCell International, as well as the world that process and cryogenically store stem cells for future use. The facilities in the United States are governed and inspected by the FDA as well several other regulating bodies to ensure the safety of these cellular therapies.

Why isn’t everyone banking these cells? What I have discovered for the most part is that people are not informed about stem cell banking and some have never even heard of it. Most people don’t even know they have stem cells in their body, they believe that stem cells only come from human embryos since that is what is mainly discussed in politics and the news. However, this is not the case. These cells are found in adults and there are no moral, ethical or political issues surrounding these cells. Now with this information you can be better informed to make a potential life saving decision.

What You Should Know About Adult Stem Cells

Adult stem cell research has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past decade. What was once viewed as inflexible, unable to proliferate and set in its ways has now been found to revert back to its earlier state. New evidence suggests that taking an adult stem cell from bone marrow or the spinal cord can become a blank slate like fetal stem cells, rather than possessing the sole ability to produce more bone marrow or more spinal cord tissue only. As a result of this finding, scientists hope to create more effective treatments for a wide range of degenerative diseases and disabling injuries.

The adult one shares two characteristics with the fetal stem cell. They can both replicate to create identical copies of themselves for extended periods of time, thus are self-renewing. Additionally, they can morph into other cell types and perform specialized functions. While it was previously believed that adult stem cells were set in their ways and committed to becoming a particular cell type, it’s recently been discovered that they are, in fact, much more flexible than was ever imagined.

One of the most exciting adult stem cell discoveries occurred in 2008 when researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California coaxed mouse brain stemcells to differentiate into support cells and function with the surrounding neuronal network. When pampered in a Petri dish, scientists found that they could encourage oligodendrocyte cells to form the fatty myelin sheath that speeds up the transfer of electrical signals along the axons.

They could also stimulate cellular growth in the hippocampus; the brain’s center for memories and learning. Scientists hope this research can provide a breakthrough in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, stroke and epilepsy.

There are a few challenges to working with the adult stem cell. If used outside the body, scientists must take great care to ensure the culture is 100% germ-free and pure. In many studies using mice, the cultures have been only 80% pure. As an organism ages, there are a number of factors that could jeopardize the purity of the stem cell sample, such as exposure to toxins, disease or DNA errors, for instance.

Great care must also be taken to ensure that cells replicate as needed and don’t go crazy to form cancerous tumors. Since the immune system is trained to attack any foreign invaders, any stem cell transplants may be subject to intense scrutiny, even if it is derived from one’s own cells. Despite these challenges, there is much to be excited about in the field of adult stem cell research.

Adult Stem Cells – A Message of Hope – State of the Art Stem Cell Products

If, a few years ago, you had mentioned adult stem cells to the man on the street he would have had no idea what you were talking about. He might have thought you were referring to the controversial stem-cell research that occupied the political scene. But adult stem cells and their amazing uses bear no relation to the embryonic-stem-cell controversy.

Much of the information on this important topic now urges us to look at adult stem cells as a possible “cure” for prevention, rejuvenation and repair of the body and provides much hope for some serious medical conditions and injuries we endure. One story that has captured the attention of medical personnel and layman alike is the story of the rock climber who broke his leg so severely that he was told he might have to agree to amputation.

But British doctors chose to try using stem cells from his body to heal the shattered bones. Three separate surgical procedures failed to hold the major leg bones together. Not only did the surgery not bring him back to health but the overall injuries were so serious that infection threatened to take his leg altogether.

Orthopaedic surgeons used stem cells from the climber’s own bone marrow, taking them from the hip area. According to the media reports on this procedure, the adult s/cells were combined with a collagen gel that was applied liberally on the fractured bones. (Collagen is the “main protein of connective tissue in animals,” according to encyclopedia information.) The procedure included holding the bones and applying slight pressure with a specially constructed frame that was left on for six months.

The climber now states that he can apply his weight to the leg and the bones stay intact. The surgeons have been quoted as saying that the technique amazed even them. These medical experts feel that the man will be able to climb again. Reports from other cases using the same technique show a success rate of 80 percent or better.

One of the most important facts about adult stem cells is that they are capable of “differentiating” so widely. This means that s/cells taken from one area of the body can form cells of other types, including blood and nerve cells. Research now shows that stem cells taken from the body are now repairing and forming into other healthy tissue once they are directed.

One of the key benefits of using a patient’s own adult s/cells is that there is no rejection of tissue. This was of major importance when cells from a man’s own bone marrow were injected into his heart muscle because of infarction (the tissue had died because blood flow was interrupted). The outcome was very successful. Similar treatment has been used for those with Crohn’s disease and skin diseases.

In experiments with mice, s/cells from healthy mice have helped regenerate tissue that was damaged by radiation. Even more remarkable, scientists report that the new cells formed into tissue of several different types.

Incredible stories are emerging every day in regards to the latest procedures and benefits of our own adult stem cells. With so much more investigation, funding and technology going into studying adult stem cells its looking extremely encouraging and promising.