Dear Colleagues!  Today is Pharma Veterans Blog Post #170. Pharma Veterans shares the wealth of knowledge and wisdom of Veterans for the benefit of entire Pharma Community. It aims to recognize and celebrate the Pharma Industry Professionals. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi on WordPress, the top blog site. If you wish to share your stories, ideas and thoughts, please email to asrar@asrarqureshi.com for publishing your contributions here.

STEM CELL TREATMENT – A MANTRA FOR CURE?

The stem cells are relatively a new discovery in the treatment of incurable diseases. Although the research was initiated somewhere in the beginning of 80s, but It is still in the experimental stage. The initial findings however, are highly encouraging and inspiring. This ingenious research work may completely change the trajectory of handling the disease.

Stem Cell method of treatment has remarkable rehabilitative and restorative potential and is poised to revolutionize the approach. Host of research papers and studies are appearing in various medical journals and the new approach is being watched with great curiosity by medical fraternity as it could prove to be the game-changer in curing the intractable health issues, which till now are either regarded as terminal (Cancer), disabling (Arthritis or Paralysis) or life-long diseases (Diabetes).

I would like to share the knowledge about the promising prospects the “Stem Cell Treatment” has to offer in near future. I scrambled through many studies and publications on “Stem Cell Technology” and am presenting the gist of them for Pharma Veterans.

There are many clinics that have started treatment by injecting stem cells world over, including Pakistan, but the high-minded devout scientists and researchers are of the opinion that the conclusive results have still to come.

The scientific evidence hitherto is insufficient to take the Stem Cell Treatment fully on-board.

  • What are stem cells, exactly?

Most of the cells in our bodies are specific types of cells, i.e heart, lung, muscle, nerve, blood, and more. But stem cells are undifferentiated, which means they have the potential to turn into more stem cells or other types of cells with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.

Stem cells 1

Stem cells can also divide indefinitely and replace and repair worn-out or damaged tissue, and have the potential to act as a ready repair system for the body.

They divide essentially without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is  alive. Stem cells are distinguished from other cell types by two important characteristics:

  • First, they are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division, sometimes after long periods of inactivity.
  • Second, under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become tissue or organ-specific cells with special functions, such as the gut and bone marrow, stem cells.

In other organs, however, such as the pancreas and the heart, stem cells only divide under special conditions.

Stem Cell Treatment centers have sprung up across the U.S., claiming to treat everything from cellulite to cancer. Are they breakthrough or bunk? In the following lines we will look at the truth behind the hype.

The headlines sound almost too good to be true: “Researchers ‘Stunned’ by Stem Cell Experiment That Helped Stroke Patient Walk”; “Wife Recovered From Cancer After Pioneering Stem Cell Treatment”; “Stem Cell Transplant Trial ‘Has Miraculous Effect’ on Multiple Sclerosis Sufferers.”

Indeed, even experts are excited about these miracle cells, which are abundant in the body and can repair and replace all kinds of tissue. “There is no doubt in my mind that stem cells are going to revolutionize the way medicine is practiced with the same kind of impact that antibiotics and vaccinations had, getting at the root causes of disease rather than dancing around the periphery,” says Charles Murry, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle.

But when it comes to medical research, Dr. Murry cautions, stem cells are barely at the starting gate. Despite their hitting the petri dish more than 20 years ago, many big questions remain to be answered:

Which people, with which diseases, might benefit from their use?

What types of stem cells should be used?

How can the cells be manipulated and administered for lasting effect?

And how does the treatment work?

Exciting as the clinical trials are, most of those that have been completed so far are just at the phase one stage, in which researchers test a small number of people to see if an intervention is safe, not yet whether it is effective.

What actually is too good to be true, are the claims being made by many of the for-profit stem cell clinics that have proliferated in the U.S. (more than 700 and counting). Using nothing more than very early study results and testimonials, these clinics promise that for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars they can use your own stem cells to treat everything from MS and rheumatoid arthritis to heart disease, diabetes, damaged joints, and cancer. Some offer cosmetic stem cell for face-lifts or cellular breast and buttock jobs; others promise to boost athletic prowess.

“There is a striking gap between the claims these centers are making and the research that is been done for most of these diseases,” says Leigh Turner, Ph.D., an associate professor in bioethics at the University of Minnesota. “People need to be very cautious about this treatment right now.”

To be continued……

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