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Stem cells from menstrual blood – a possible solution for many problems
Stem cell science and therapies related to stem cell are making remarkable progress. Menstrual blood has always been a subject of study in different researches due to its easy availability. The possibility of isolation of stem cells from the menstrual blood and the umbilical cord blood cells has opened a new channel in stem cell research that can offer future therapeutic benefits to mankind. Several successful researches have shown the use of the stem cells derived from the endometrial blood for the treatments of different fatal diseases. The current breakthrough discovery that the menstrual blood contains stem cells that are proliferative and are capable of differentiating into different types of cells including cardiac cells, neural cells and into almost 9 types of tissues including heart, liver and lung, has opened a new field for therapeutic possibilities.

Since the stem cells can be easily obtained from the sources of umbilical cord blood and menstrual blood, hence much research on the subject has been made possible. Moreover, the stem cells from these sources have the potential to differentiate into many types of cells and being immunologically immature offers them the potential to promote cell survival rather than playing a role in cell replacement, which takes place after cell transplantation. The stem cells derived from the menstrual blood i.e. menstrual blood-derived stem cells (MenSCs) have the additional advantage of being available every month in a woman in her reproductive age; hence, could be collected easily than the human umbilical cord blood cells (huCBs), which could be collected only at the time of birth.

According to research based on neuroscience, it has been found that the transplantation of the stem cells isolated from the umbilical cord blood cells and the menstrual blood cells can help the therapeutics of the various neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease (AD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), stroke, etc.

It has been found that the transplantation of huCBs in the animal models of those neurological diseases helped in the reduction of inflammation that is the main component of the neurodegenerative diseases. Although, the transplanted huCBs failed to enter the brain in most of the cases, they often helped in the behavioural improvement. These cells were found to have anti-inflammatory properties as also being pro-angiogenic in nature, that is, capable of encouraging tissue repair and cell growth.

The transplantation of MeSCs in the animal models of stroke resulted in the differentiation of the MeSCs into different neural cell types. It had the potential to protect against the deprivation of oxygen-glucose in the animal models as well as the laboratory cultures of stroke (in vitro and in vivo). The transplanted cells secreted factors that had neuro-protective effect. This may be related to the secretion of vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF), brain-derived growth factors (BDNF), and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) by the cells, which play important role in the treatment of stroke.

Both blood vessels as well as neurons are essential for brain repair after stroke. The stem cells have the potential to spur the growth of both the vital components. It has been found that a specific type of stem cell derived from the menstrual blood was more potent than the adult stem cells as it could differentiate into more tissue types i.e. from fat to muscle to nerve.

Research studies have proved the use of MeSCs in preventing amputation of limbs due to peripheral artery disease. Critical limb ischemia is an advanced stage of Peripheral artery disease that caused very low blood flow in the limbs thereby causing withering of limbs leading to its amputation. There is neither medicinal nor surgical treatment for the advanced stage of the disease. Studies in mice models of the advanced stage of the disease were carried out and it was seen that the treatment with the injection of endometrial regenerative cells (ERCs) or the MeSCs were found to help in the revitalisation of the limbs and restored its functionality. The ERCs have regenerative properties and could help in the stimulation of blood vessel growth. Moreover, the ERCS are easily injectable without the use of any complex instruments. The ERCs did not invoke any immunological response, hence could be used in “off the shelf” manner i.e. the injection of ERCs do not require any sort of matching before introduction into the point of care. The translation of the mice studies into human clinical trials are awaited in near future.

Hence, the menstrual blood offers a better alternative for adult stem cells that can circumvent the various logistical and ethical limitations faced by the embryonic stem cells, due to constant debates over the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research, thereby helping in new discoveries related to use of stem cells in medical practice.
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How to collect and store stem cells?

People are dealing with moral issues associated with embryonic stem cells starting from the first conducted experiment. Those cells are used in treatment of numerous diseases because they can be turned into all cell types. They are also excellent tool for analysis of various diseases (useful in drug development) because scientists could track disease progression from the initiation of the disease. This is probably the most controversial part associated with embryonic stem cells - using the embryo's parts purely for laboratory research. Important fact (that critics often forget) is that embryos are not cultivated because of the experiments, but rather turned from medical waste into useful material. Typical examples are cells donated from the unsuccessful in vitro fertilization. Umbilical cord is medical waste also. After baby is delivered, umbilical cord will be discarded. In that moment, you have potential solution for future diseases directly in your hands, but no one can force a person to keep these cells until they finally can be used. Same is with menstrual blood. Every month females have incredible opportunity to secure themselves against the future illnesses through depositing sample of menstrual stem cells in the bank. List of stem cells associated treatments is already long; I can just imagine future applications of these cells when some new technologies become available.

Somewhere around 1970s, researchers discovered that umbilical cord contains cells that have same potential like bone marrow derived hematopoietic cells. In 1988, first successful transplantation of stem cells cured a 5-year-old child that suffered from Fanconi’s anemia. That operation opened an era of successful application of stem cells in various medical fields. People also became more familiar with this topic and more opened toward idea of collecting and storing stem cells.

People in almost all countries in the world have opportunity to collect and store their stem cells for the future use. Stem cells can be donated also. Public stem cell banks will collect stem cells and use them for the future transplantations of children or young people. Children and youngsters are best candidates for stem cell transplantation because their organisms are not fully grown (bigger organism requires more cells). If you donate stem cells, you can save life of someone else’s child, just like someone’s donation could save life of your child. People might think that donated stem cells are same as donated organs, but unlike already formed organs, stem cells are not fully differentiated and they are flexible & easily adaptable to the new environment. In other words, stem cells used in transplantation don’t have to match exactly with the recipient. Also, statistics showed that people who decide to keep the stem cells in a private bank usually never use them. Your own cells will match your body 100% but only 25% if they are needed for your close relatives. In public stem cell banks, you can find stem cells that will match 90% with your body. And finally, maybe not the most important, but certainly significant factor that could help you decide whether you should donate or keep stem cells in a private bank. If you decide to donate your stem cells, you can do that for free. On the other hand, private banks will charge sampling of the stem cells between 1000 and 2000 dollars; also you need to pay 100 to 200 dollars for the annual maintenance. Umbilical stem cells are collected immediately after baby is born. If you decide to collect and store menstrual blood stem cells, again, procedure is very simple and painless. Physician will insert a tube that will be collecting blood 4h and during that period you can continue with your regular daily activities. All collected stem cells will be cry-preserved until they are needed. Stem cells should have indefinite longevity, but since preservation of these cells is just "few years" old method, we can't be 100% sure.

Thanks to fast development of science and technology, stem cells are now part of our reality. Those cells are biological waste that we wisely decide to "recycle". Personally, I am thrilled with medical potentials of stem cells and with bright scientific minds that discovered new sources and applications of those cells.
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Stem cells from menstrual blood – a possible solution for many problems00