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Potential role of stem cells in the therapeutics for major diseases
Stem cells have shown great promise in the treatment of a number of major diseases. Their unique properties of differentiation have made their studies a widely researched area. Although, there are some ethical issues surrounding the subject, the development in this area can offer solutions and therapeutics for many fatal diseases with minimal complications. However, in-depth research and scientific testing on human trials is essential before it can have wide application for treatment throughout the world.

Heart diseases are one of the major diseases affecting majority of the population all over the world. The inability of the heart cells to regenerate and repair themselves after the occurrence of a heart attack prevents the application of further treatments on such patients. In such cases, stem cells have helped in regenerating damaged heart muscle cells by the introduction of adult stem cells from non-heart tissues into the damaged heart. Hence, they play an important role in the treatment of heart diseases.

Neuronal diseases and spinal cord injuries have always been a cause of fear for people as the treatment of these diseases are quite complicated and their complete cure is quite difficult to attain. In this area also, stem cells have made a major mark with proof of successful studies in rodent models. The condition of paralysis or impairment of motor function due to spinal cord injury was found to be reversible to perfectly normal condition with the introduction of embryonic stem cells. In a motor neuron degenerative disease called Lou Gehrig’s disease also, it was found that the introduction of embryonic stem cells helped in the restoration of the function of motor nerve cells. However, all these studies were found to be successful in the rodent models; hence, they remain to be translated into the human studies. Stem cells have proved successful in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, in which they were able to restore the secretion of neurotransmitter, dopamine, with the transplantation of the stem cells. However, there were possibilities of hypersensitivity to increased dopamine levels. Hence, detailed study is necessary before it can be translated into potential treatment.

Stem cells have provided a path for the treatment of the degenerative retinal diseases. The successful differentiation of the stem cells into photoreceptor cells and the introduction of these photoreceptor cells into the retina of the patients helped in restoring the vision of the patients, thereby preventing complete blindness. The differentiation of the stem cells into specialised pancreatic cells with the ability to secrete insulin has provided a gateway to the treatment of diabetes associated with impaired insulin secretion due to the destruction of the pancreatic β-cells by the immune system.

The stem cells have played a major role in the treatment of cancer like leukaemia and this is one of the successful applications of stem cell based therapies. The disease of Leukaemia affects the white blood cells, which become cancerous and lose their normal functioning. The ability of the normal white blood cells to fight against different infections and protect the body is lost. This results in the vulnerability of the body to develop infections as the immune system is compromised and the functionality of the different vital organs within the body is lost. The bone marrow transplant along with chemotherapy helps in replacing the damaged blood cells with fresh blood cells. The patient’s damaged cells are removed by chemotherapy and the new stem cells introduced by transplantation give rise to new blood cells, thereby restoring the functions of the blood cells. The introduction of new refinements in the technique has removed the necessity of a match between the donor and the patient’s bone marrow. The multiplication of the stem cells in the donor blood to high concentrations has removed the need for matching the donor and patient, thereby improving the patient outcome, and helping in the eradication of cancer in future.

New research studies have shown the reattachment of the lost teeth and the growth of new teeth in place of lost ones with the help of stem cells within the patient’s body, thus opening a new area of research in the field of dentistry. The ability of the stem cells to repair bones and also regenerate lost bones within the body has demonstrated the remarkable progress in the stem cell research. Thus, stem cells research has become the future for different therapeutics and can be the ultimate solution for decreasing the suffering and increasing the mortality of the mankind.
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Potential role of stem cells in the therapeutics for major diseases - by Kamat2010 - 11-01-2012, 08:25 PM
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