Stem Cell Treatment FAQs
Everything you wanted to know about stem cell therapy.
WHAT ARE STEM CELLS?
Our body is composed of many different kind of cells. Blood cells and skin cells, brain cells and liver cells, each specialized for their own particular use. You cannot take a blood cell and make it do the work for a nerve cell or vice versa.
Stem cells are however undifferentiated cells. Which means that they have not yet decided what they are going to be. So stem cells can give rise to cells like themselves or any other cells in the body. The body uses stem cells to replace the old and ageing tissues of the body.
WHY DO WE NEED STEM CELL THERAPY?
As we go older the number of stem cells in our body decrease. This means that stem cells are no longer able to replace the old and damaged cells from different parts of the body. Soon, the dying cells in the body outnumber the new ones. Our body loses the ability to regenerate itself. This is the process we know as ageing.
With stem cell therapy we attempt to increase the number of stem cells in the body. So that when cells of any part of the body start ageing, stem cells can quickly reproduce to replace them. Keeping the body younger, and you healthier.
HOW MANY STEM CELLS DO WE NEED?
Millions. Actually hundreds of millions. Only when you have the adequate number of stem cells can they start to replace the dead and dying cells of our body. So when our body is no longer able to produce so many stem cells, we become dependent on stem cells that are injected into the body.
It is impossible to procure stem cells in the numbers that your body needs. So what one needs to do is expand the stem cells to produce more stem cells. Which means that the cells that are procured are multiplied and then multiplied further to give the adequate number. This ensures that you have enough stem cells of consistent quality available.
Needless to say, this process must be performed in a completely sterile environment.
WHAT ARE ANIMAL STEM CELLS?
Scientists became aware of stem cells and their function about eighty years ago. That time science was not advanced enough to isolate and then expand (multiply) human stem cells. Researchers tried rather to use animal cells. However this process involved the killing of a large number of animals and hardly ever produced results.
WHY ARE HUMAN CELLS BETTER THAN ANIMAL STEM CELLS?
Animal cells are unable to function in the human body. In fact, when an animal cell is introduced into the human body, the body does not recognise the cell and treats it like a foreign body. So the immune system hunts down and kills every last one.
In rare cases there are too many animal cells for the immune system to destroy. Then the animal cells overwhelm the immune system. This can cause severe and harmful reactions.
There have been many cases of animal stem cells causing a lot of damage. That is why many countries have banned their use.
It is true that some people have reported positive results when injected with animal stem cells. However, this is not because of the stem cells but by associate growth factors present in the serum.
WHAT ARE MESENCHYMAL CELLS
Among the many types of stem cells present in the body, Mesenchymal cells are probably the most versatile and useful.
Mesenchymal cells can differentiate into any kind of cell and replace cells in any part of the body, be it the heart, blood, pancreas, cartilage or liver.
Mesenchymal cells are also loaded with growth factors. Which means that they encourage the other cells of your body to grow by themselves.
This is not all, these cells are also immunoprivileged. The immune system of your body does not see them as foreign bodies and try to destroy them. Rather they are accepted and integrated into the body, naturally.
IS THE TREATMENT PAINFUL?
The treatment is less painful than an injection. In fact it is as simple as can be. You walk into your clinic. You are given a saline drip. After about half an hour, you can leave.
If you are prone to allergies, you might be given a prophylactic injection before the drip as a precautionary measure.
The only challenging part lies in monitoring the treatment. Your doctor has to assess you regularly to ensure that stem cell treatment is right for you. It is also important to check whether the treatment is bringing about the desired response in your body.