Yes – There Are Different Kinds of Stem Cell Treatments

Journalists covering any topic have a responsibility to readers to be as clear as possible. They are never to be misleading – whether intentionally or unintentionally. So why can’t they seem to get it right when it comes to stem cell therapies? Why do so many paint too broad a picture? Perhaps it is because they do not understand that there is more than one kind of stem cell treatment.

Yes, there are different kinds. If this is news to you, keep reading. This post will explain some of the finer details of stem cell therapy that you might not have heard before. Understanding these details will make it easier for you to parse what you read and hear in the news.

Basics of Stem Cells

Stem cells are considered the building blocks of human biology. Pluripotent stem cells are those stem cells capable of differentiating into any of the five germ layers found in our bodies. Babies in the womb have tons of these cells. When a person is born, he or she still has plenty of pluripotent cells to work with. However, things change as that person ages. With age comes less of an ability to produce pluripotent stem cells.

There are other kinds of stem cells including mesenchymal, induced pluripotent, and autologous. Here’s where the differences in stem cell treatments come in. Researchers are continually looking into pluripotent stem cells. Others are studying induced pluripotent cells while still others are focusing on mesenchymal stem cells.

A mesenchymal stem cell is a kind of stem cell capable of differentiating into a variety of different tissues within the same germ layer. For example, stem cells derived from adipose fat tissue can differentiate into muscle tissue, cartilage, and tendons.

As for autologous stem cells, these are mesenchymal stem cells that come directly from a patient being treated. If you were to undergo a stem cell treatment for osteoarthritis, your doctor would extract stem cells from your fat tissue or bone marrow. Those would be the only cells utilized in your procedure.

Different Kinds of Procedures

It stands to reason that there would be different kinds of stem cell treatments based on the different kinds of stem cells. Indeed, that is the way it is. When you read news stories discussing stem cell treatments, it is important that you understand what kind of treatment is being discussed.

A bone marrow transplant for leukemia is a stem cell procedure. It utilizes mesenchymal stem cells from a donor whom testing has revealed to be a good match. The donor cells, because they come from someone else, are not autologous cells. But they are mesenchymal.

A stem cell procedure to treat osteoarthritis would be an autologous procedure. As discussed previously, the patient donates his or her own cells. Those cells are extracted, processed in a centrifuge, and then injected into the affected joint. There is no danger of complication or rejection due to the autologous nature of the cells.

Meanwhile, researchers are working on ways to use induced pluripotent stem cells to treat things like heart disease and cancer. An induced pluripotent cell is an adult mesenchymal stem cell that has been modified in a lab to take on the properties of a pluripotent stem cell.

According to the Utah-based Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute, research into stem cell therapies has come a long way over the last few decades. With each new discovery comes the promise of a better treatment using stem cells to encourage the body to heal itself. Needless to say there are many different kinds of treatments now being researched.

Categorized as Health

By Finn

Finn Oliver Edwards: Finn, a pediatric nurse, shares child health tips, parenting advice, and preventive measures for common childhood illnesses.