Stem cell therapy is a treatment that is widely known both by medical professionals and those outside the medical community. However, though people have heard of the treatment, many do not know about stem cells themselves. If you are going to undergo stem cell therapy, it is especially important to understand where stem cells come from and how they are used.
What Are Stem Cells?
Many people believe that stem cells are one specific type of cell that serves a single purpose. However, the defining characteristic of a stem cell is that it can develop into almost any kind of cell. Stem cells do not initially have a specific identification or purpose. Stem cells are also significant because they can regenerate and reproduce more than many other types of cells.
Where Do Stem Cells Come From?
Due to the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cell research, embryonic cells are discussed most frequently. Embryonic stem cells come from human embryos. However, there are many other types of stem cells that scientists and medical professionals are researching and testing.
One of the other sources where scientists can get stem cells is in bone marrow. The cells can only come from adults and the process is painful and unpleasant. Your age and health are significant factors in determining if you can give stem cells from your bone marrow because of the stress that your body is put through during the process.
Stem cells also come from placenta and cord tissue. These types of stem cells are extracted while an embryo is developing. Along with coming from tissue, stem cells can be harvested from umbilical cord blood. There is far less controversy surrounding this method because medical professionals usually discard the umbilical cord after birth so saving some blood has little impact on the mother or infant. Some parents choose to save the umbilical cord blood because it can be used for an exact donor match later in the infant’s life.
Two other locations where scientists can access stem cells are in amniotic fluid during pregnancy and in developing teeth.
How Do Medical Professionals Use Stem Cells?
The main use of stem cells is to help treat diseases. With the current research and discoveries, stem cells can be used to treat more than 80 diseases. They are also used to help organs adapt after a transplant, reducing the chance of the body rejecting a new organ. Researchers also use stem cells to test the effect that new medications and treatments have on the body, along with understanding more about some diseases and ailments.