What is Stem cell therapy?
Stem cell therapy or stem cell transplantation is part of the regenerative medicine whereby new cells are introduced into the body in order to treat a disease or injury by regenerating new tissue.
Stem cells are different from other cell types, because they are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division to replenish other cells.
In some organs, such as the gut and bone marrow, stem cells regularly divide to repair and replace worn out or damaged tissues. Bone marrow transplantation for example, is one form of stem cell therapy. Stem cells are also called progenitor or mother cells.
A fundamental characteristic of stem cells is that they don’t have to be implanted into a damaged organ, (i.e. liver stem cells into liver), because they will automatically find their way into the damaged organ, this process is called homing.
What are the different type of stem cells?
1) Embryonic cells are extracted from the embryo; they have been vetoed as object of investigation by aspects related to ethics and religion.
2) Adult stem cells are found in adult tissues, and are called multipotential cells: they have the capacity to differentiate and to regenerate themselves. Those stem cells are being extracted from the patient´s bone marrow or from his peripheral blood.
3 ) Umbilical cord cells are those that have recently been added as another option to be used in stem cell transplants. They are called pluripotential cells.It has now become common procedure to freeze the cells of the umbilical cord from new-born babies, with the hope to be used in the future, if necessary. In Guatemala there a private bank of umbilical cord cells (“Stemcare”).
P.S. in Guatemala stem cell transplants are only performed with adult stem cells and umbilical cord cells.