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Stem Cell Therapy

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Using stem cells to prevent a disease is known as stem cell therapy. Read this article to know more about stem cell therapy.

Written by

Dr. Lochana .k

Medically reviewed by

Dr. M. Pradeep Kumar

Published At March 14, 2022
Reviewed AtMay 8, 2023

What Are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are the basic constituents from which the cells of specialized functions are manifested. The stem cells can be divided into a huge number of cells called the daughter cells. They require adequate body conditions or laboratory conditions to produce these stem cells. These daughter cells later become new stem cells or specialized cells. The process of changing into a specialized cell is known as differentiation. The specialized cell has a more specific function. They may be transformed into any type of cell such as blood cells, heart muscle cells, brain cells, or bone cells. No other cell in the body other than stem cells has the ability to generate new types of cells.

What Is Unique About Stem Cells?

  • Learning How Diseases Occur: Doctors and scientists may better understand how diseases and disorders develop by observing the stem cells mature into cells in bones, nerves, heart, muscle, and other organs and tissue.

  • Regenerative Medicine: In order to replace the diseased cells, healthy cells may be generated. Stem cells can be guided into becoming specific cells. These specific cells can be used for the purpose of regeneration and repair of the diseased or damaged tissues in people. This has caused the field of regenerative medicine to reach the zenith in its advancements. Using stem cell therapy, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries, stroke, type 1 diabetes, lateral sclerosis, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, burns, cancer, and osteoarthritis can be treated. Stem cells may have the ability to be grown to become new successful tissue for usage in transplant and regenerative medicine. Vast research is being continued for the advancement in stem cell therapy and its applications in transplant and regenerative medicine.

  • Testing New Drugs for Safety and Effectiveness: Researchers can use a certain type of stem cells for testing the drugs for safety and quality before trying the experimental drugs in people. This type of testing might have a direct impact on the development of drugs for cardiac toxicity testing. New areas of research include the effectiveness of using stem cells from the human. The cells which are already programmed into tissue-specific cells can be used to test new drugs. The cells have to be programmed to get properties of the type of cells targeted by the drug so that the testing of new drugs tends to be accurate. Techniques to program the cells into specific cells are still under study. The harmful effects caused by the drugs on the cells can be studied beforehand. In this way, most of the side effects caused by the drug can be avoided.

What Is the Origin of Stem Cells?

Embryonic Stem Cells: These stem cells come from embryos that are only three to five days old. These are pluripotent stem cells and can divide into more stem cells. They also have the ability to be converted into any type of stem cells. This flexible nature of these cells makes them helpful in repair and regeneration. They are denoted as ES cells.

Adult Stem Cells: They are also called tissue-specific stem cells. These are stem cells that are found in very small numbers. It is present in most adult tissues, such as bone marrow or fat tissue. Compared with embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells have only little ability to give rise to many cells of the body. It was found that adult stem cells could create only similar types of cells. For instance, if the stem cell originated from the bone marrow, it can give rise to blood cells only. However, emerging evidence suggests that adult stem cells may be able to create various types of cells. For instance, bone marrow stem cells may be able to create bone or heart muscle cells. There is no proper evidence to identify the success rate.

Perinatal Stem Cells: Stem cells can be obtained from amniotic fluid and umbilical cord blood. These are known as perinatal stem cells. These stem cells also have the ability to change into a more specialized form of cells. Amniotic fluid fills the sac. This fluid is known to surround and protect a developing fetus. Researchers have identified some stem cells in amniotic fluid samples obtained from pregnant women. This sample can be used to detect any abnormalities. This is done by amniocentesis.

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: It is denoted as iPS cells. According to recent advances, regular adult cells are transformed into stem cells using genetic reprogramming. By genetic programming, the genes can be altered to function as an embryonic stem cell. This new technique can prevent immune system rejection of the new stem cells.

What Are the Advantages of Stem-Cell Therapy?

Blood-Related Disorders:

Hematopoietic stem cells are known to treat lymphoma and leukemia. It is the most widely practiced stem cell therapy.

Brain and Spinal Cord Injury:

Neurons may have degenerated in a brain and spinal cord injury. Stem cells can be used for these injuries.


Regarding the heart, new heart muscle cells can be regenerated. The growth of new blood vessels can be stimulated to repopulate damaged heart tissue. The growth factors can be secreted.


It can be used to treat conditions such as anodontia. Stem cells are collected from the patient beforehand. It is processed in the lab and can be converted to a natural tooth bud. When it is necessary, it can be implanted in the gums. This will provide a new tooth. This tooth will later fuse with the jawbone. After it gets fused, it will release chemicals that will allow the nerves and blood vessels to get connected with it. The process replicates what happens when humans grow their original adult teeth naturally.

Frailty Syndrome:

This syndrome affects geriatric patients. They were characterized by muscle weakness. Many improvements in physical activities were observed.


In type 1 diabetic patients, insulin-producing beta cells might not be effective in their function. Embryonic stem cells can be converted to beta cells in the laboratory. When the cells are transplanted successfully, the functions of the pancreas can be replaced.

Auditory System:

Cochlear hair cells can be made to re-grow using stem cells. This will enhance the quality of the auditory system.

Visual System:

Similar to the auditory system, the visual system can also be improved by the replacement of corneal cells.


The mesenchymal stem cells are under research for potential use in orthopedic applications. Successful results can be helpful in cartilage repair, bone and muscle trauma, osteoarthritis, and musculoskeletal disorders.


HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is known to destroy the immune system and cause a loss of CD4+ T cells. Recently scientists have been investigating the creation of a disease-resistant immune system. This can be achieved by the transplantation of gene-modified hematopoietic stem cells and progenitor cells. These gene-modified cells should be resistant to HIV.

Wound Healing:

In a healthy adult, the wounded tissue is often replaced by scar tissue. The method for tissue regeneration in adults is achieved by placement of an adult stem cell called ‘SEEDS’ inside the wound bed. This allows the stem cells to generate differentiation in the tissue bed cells. Since stem cells have a good healing capability, it is possible to treat some cases of skin cancer. But these ideas are still under research.


Human embryonic stem cells can be processed to form Spermatozoon-like cells. The main disadvantage is that it can slightly be damaged or malformed.

What Is the Contribution of Stem Cells in Veterinary Medicine?

Recently, research has been conducted on cats, horses, dogs, and other animals. Veterinary medicine can highly benefit from stem cell therapy. A successful stem cell therapy can cure a wide range of diseases such as ligament tear or damage, osteoarthritis, osteochondrosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, and muscular dystrophies. The good news is that it can be achieved both in animals and humans.

What Is Stem Cell Banking?

Stem cell banking is also known as umbilical cord blood banking. Umbilical cord blood is known by the name of cord blood. In this process, cord blood is obtained from the baby at the time of delivery. It is a highly rich source of stem cells. This can be collected only one time, that is, at birth. It is then stored for potential uses in the future. These cells can be used to treat any blood-related conditions or other disorders in the future. Stem cell banking provides a healthy future for the individual and the entire family.

Special Features About Stem Cell Banking:

  • It can help kids with autism.

  • It can cure tumors.

  • It can do wonders in treating a patient with renal failure.

  • It can help patients with chronic granulomatous disease.

  • The baby’s cord blood can be used by the same individual, the entire family, the parents, siblings, paternal and maternal grandparents.

  • It can solve more than 80 health conditions.

What Are the Disadvantages of Stem Cell Therapy?

  • The transplanted cells might face rejection, and the rejection rate is relatively high.

  • A huge marketing style is involved in stem cell therapy, and it is difficult for the public to know which is actually reliable.

  • Stem cell therapy is a tedious procedure. It is also highly technique sensitive.

  • Has many ethical and legal issues.

  • The cost of storing stem cells in banks is very high. It requires continuous financial investment from the family. This might be difficult to afford.

  • Genetic diseases can be transmitted.

  • High risk of infections.

  • The cells may be in a limited number.

  • When the treatment options are in the experimental stage, it is very difficult to predict the prognosis.


Stem cell therapy is a wide branch of science and advancement. This can be questionable and is always subjected to vast research. Stem cell therapy is still under research and is practiced in a few stem cell banks.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Function of Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem cell therapy helps in the repair of damaged cells within the body by modulating the immune system and reducing inflammation. This makes stem cell therapy a viable treatment for many medical conditions. This therapy has been used to treat inflammatory, autoimmune, orthopedic, neurological conditions, and traumatic injuries.


What Disease Can Be Treated With Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem cell therapy is very beneficial in treating long-term chronic conditions. This therapy can be used on its own or in combination with other therapy. It can be used in treating a wide range of following conditions:
- Anemia (decreased number of red blood cells in the body).
- Cancer.
- Arthritis (joint inflammation).
- Heart disease.
- Parkinson's disease (a progressive disorder caused by degeneration of nerve cells).
- Diabetes.
- Multiple sclerosis (an autoimmune disease affecting the brain and spinal cord).
- Kidney disease.
- Fibromyalgia (a condition causing pain all over the body).


What Is the Success Rate of Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem cell transplant has shown a success rate of about 50 % in treating several types of cancers and many other conditions. Also, there is a success rate of about 70 to 80 % in treating non-malignant conditions such as aplastic anemia (a condition occurring when the bone marrow cannot produce enough blood cells and platelets). Recovery is also very important for stem cell therapy patients who underwent surgery.


What Are the Types of Stem Cells?

The different types of stem cells are as follows:
- Fetal stem cells (stem cells are collected from aborted fetal tissue).
- Adult stem cells (stem cells are collected from adult tissue).
- Embryonic stem cells (stem cells are collected from human embryos).
- Umbilical stem cells (stem cells are collected from the umbilical cord).


Is Stem Cell Therapy a Painful Procedure?

During stem cell therapy, anesthesia will be provided to the patients, so they may not experience pain during the procedure. However, pain can be felt after the procedure. Also, the intensity of the pain varies depending on the type of stem cell procedure.


Does Stem Cell Therapy Carry Risk?

Stem cell therapy also carries certain risks, such as immune rejection of the stem cells used in treatment. Also, stem cells have the potential to multiply many times, which is their great promise. Because of these abilities, stem cells can also form tumors. These risk factors should be checked by the doctors before proceeding with the treatment.


Is Stem Cell a Permanent Therapy?

The stem cell treatment is permanent; after the treatment, the injured area, along with the degenerative disorders and neuromuscular, will start to heal. Mostly the healing process will end after a period of 4 to 5 months, or it may even take a year. 


Which Is the Best Country for Stem Cell Therapy?

These days due to enhancements in medical technology, almost all countries have specialized equipment and experienced healthcare professionals who can successfully perform stem cell therapy. However, the USA (United States of America) is constantly striving to seek new developments in medical science. So they have established many facilities in stem cell therapy hospitals.


What Are the Drawbacks of Stem Cell Therapy?

- The rejection rate is high in embryonic stem cells.
- Obtaining stem cells is a hard task.
- The long-term side effects cannot be detected.
- The treatment is very expensive.
- Adults only have limited stem cells.


How Long Can a Stem Cell Survive?

After stem cell therapy, the injected stem cells will be repaired in the target area for up to one year. However, the patient will not take one year to experience the relief. The stem cell will start working within three to six weeks following the therapy procedures. The exact duration of survival is not determined. Researchers say stem cells are immortal and continue regenerating through self-renewal.


Is It Possible for the Injected Stem Cells to Turn Cancerous?

Stem cells survive for a longer duration than ordinary cells by self-renewing the cell. This increases the chance of accumulating genetic mutations. A cell may take only a few mutations to lose control over its self-renewal ability and grow to become the source of cancer.


Can Our Body Reject Stem Cells?

Stem cell rejection is possible when a patient's body does not accept the new stem cells. So, the given stem cells do reach the bone marrow and multiply as they should. This is more common when there is no match between the patient and the donor. It can also occur when the amount of stem cells is low.


Is Stem Cell Therapy More Beneficial Than Surgery?

Stem cell therapy is considered more beneficial than surgery because it carries low risk as it is non-invasive, with no large incisions, so there will not be scars or wounds. Also, general anesthesia is not required for stem cell therapy, so it is safe for people who have experienced a negative reaction to anesthetics. Post-treatment rest time is less, so they can continue their routine soon after the treatment. 


How Are Stem Cells Collected?

Usually, stem cells are extracted from the blood or bone marrow. In the initial treatment, the stem cells are moved from the bone marrow into the blood, called mobilization. Mobilization is achieved through the injection of growth factor or chemotherapy. When there is a required amount of stem cells in the blood, then they are harvested using a special machine that separates blood and stem cells.


What Is Contraindicated After Stem Cell Therapy?

Immediately after stem cell transplantation, the immunity of the patient will be weak. So it is necessary to maintain good hygiene and stay away from sick people. Also, concentrate on a good diet and do not eat raw food. Limit strenuous exercises. Also, do not use anti-inflammatory drugs till doctors recommend them.
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Dr. Lochana .k
Dr. Lochana .k



stem cell therapy
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