There's a lot of excitement lately in the Anti-Aging medicine world about stem cells. Why? Because stem cells literally have the potential to reverse aging, repair damaged organs, reverse disease, rebuild cartilage in arthritic joints, and many other applications. It is such an exciting field of medicine that I predict that within the next ten years they will change the way we practice medicine.
What is a stem cell? Basically, a stem cell is a cell that has the potential to become any cell. We derive them from either bone marrow, fat cells, or umbilical cords. The stem cells from the umbilical cord are easily obtained and are very potent in their potential to differentiate into other cells, whereas adult stem cells from fat or bone marrow are more limited in their potential.
There is no limit to the types of diseases that could be treated with stem cells. Uses of stem cells now include:
· Joint injections - probably the most commonly used is injecting the stem cells directly into the joint where there is severe arthritis and reduction of the cartilage. This can allow cartilage to regrow, thereby avoiding the need for a joint replacement.
· Heart disease - by replacing old, decaying cells with new heart cells, heart conditions such as CHF, or congestive heart failure, may resolve. Also helps to repair blood vessels and may reduce high blood pressure.
· COPD or other lung diseases - stem cells can be nebulized and breathed into the lungs allowing repair of damaged tissues; this may be effective even after years of smoking. Often, this treatment is done every six months for several years.
· Diabetes - has the potential to reverse diabetes, even type 1.
· Alzheimer's - there is exciting research being done showing the possibility of reversing this devastating disease. Other neurological diseases that may be helped include Parkinson's, previous strokes and multiple sclerosis.
· And many other conditions, such as vision loss, impaired wound healing, autism, hair loss, chronic pain, neuropathy, kidney disease and general anti-aging purposes.
What's next on the horizon? Actually, growing an entire organ. Let's say you need a heart transplant, which is needed by 4000 people a year. But there's only 2500 available. And if you're one of the lucky 2500, you then must take anti-rejection drugs the rest of your life, which increases your risk of cancer. But if you could grow your own heart, imagine! It would be like a brand-new heart, no one has to die to get one, and you would never have to take anti-rejection drugs. Sounds like science fiction, but it is not.
Already, as reported in the journal Circulation Research , the researchers used adult stem cells to regenerate new hearts. They looked like immature hearts, and when given an electric shock, started beating. It will be no time at all when organ transplantation from donors will be a thing of the past, and your own stem cells with your own DNA will be used. Have type one diabetes? No problem, islet of Langerhan cells can be grown and injected into your pancreas. Need a new kidney? A new one can be made in two weeks. Areas of the brain destroyed by a stroke, leaving neurological defects? New brain cells can be made and brain functioning restored. It's the wild west, and the future is unlimited and exciting!
As with anything new for the first ten years at least, it's considered "experimental medicine" and therefore not covered by insurance. But that doesn't mean it isn't helpful and can't have profound effects. Even penicillin was at one time considered experimental. We are at the forefront of medical technology, and starting to use stem cell injections for joints, and IV for all the medical issues listed above. Call Healthy Living Liberty Lake at 509-924-6199 if you would like to learn more.