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How Stem Cells are Being Used to Treat Diseases Today

26 Apr 2017
| Under Medical | Posted by | 2 Comments
How Stem Cells are Being Used to Treat Diseases Today

Stem cell therapy is the use of stem cells to treat a condition or disease. Everyone has stem cells that exist naturally in their bodies, acting as their bodies’ natural healing systems. Whenever you get a cut or a bruise, stem cells migrate to the area to heal your body.

Stem cell therapy is practiced as standard of care for many conditions. The most widely used type of stem cell therapy today is bone marrow transplantation. While the field is still growing in many aspects, we have seen much success in the healing of a variety of conditions.

“Cell therapy, whether utilizing stem cells or other types of cells, is a very broad concept when one considers how cells can be manipulated at the level of their genetic make-up or altered in response to changes in their environment,” said Senior Medical Director for the Lung Institute, Jack Coleman, M.D. “Tremendous advances in this area have been made worldwide over the last two decades, but we are really only scratching the surface of what can be done.”


Bone marrow transplants for leukemia patients have been done for decades. Bone marrow is rich in stem cells, and a bone marrow transplant can help to restore healthy bone marrow in patients with leukemia.

There are two types of stem cell transplants that are used in leukemia patients: autologous stem cell transplant and allogeneic stem cell transplant.

An autologous stem cell transplant is a treatment method utilizing the patient’s own cells for treatment instead of donor cells.

An allogeneic stem cell transplant is when stem cells are taken from a matching donor, such as a family member, unrelated person or umbilical cord blood. A person undergoes a human leukocyte antigens (HLA) test to determine if they are a good match for the patient. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find matching donors for patients. Because of this, autologous stem cell transplants are the most common.

Looking ahead, there are several new developments on the horizon. Researchers are now focused on apheresis technology, which means separating different parts of the blood, and cell expansion in vivo, meaning mobilizing hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) into the peripheral blood so that more cells can be harvested for treatment use. Researchers are also studying DNA manipulation, meaning they genetically modify immune cells from a donor before introducing them into the patient. Doctors recently successfully treated two babies with leukemia using this technique.

Umbilical Cord Stem Cells

“Umbilical cord stem cells have shown tremendous treatment potential based on the results of studies performed in other countries.” said Dr. Coleman. “Unfortunately, FDA regulations are stifling their use in the United States, allowing other countries to get way ahead of us with treatment protocols and outcomes.”

Umbilical cord blood was once treated as waste material. Now, we know that it can be a source rich in blood stem cells. In fact, umbilical cord stem cells have been used to treat children with certain blood diseases since 1989, such as leukemia or genetic blood diseases.

While cord blood has fewer HSCs, it has a higher concentration of stem cells that have not yet differentiated as far as to become HSCs. Because cord blood stem cells have not yet differentiated that far, the stem cells present may be more effective because they are not committed to the HSC pathway. So, they can be stimulated to go down other differentiation pathways, which is why cord blood stem cells are so useful.

There are some advantages to umbilical cord stem cells. They can be stored and frozen until needed, and they are less likely to be rejected by the patient’s body, which sometimes occurs with donor bone marrow transplants.

Pulmonary Conditions

How Stem Cells are Being Used to Treat Diseases Today

The Lung Institute specializes in stem cell therapy for people with chronic pulmonary conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary fibrosis.

“Our responsibility is to give the best, safest treatment to patients to relieve pain and suffering and prolong quality of life,” said Dr. Coleman. “Our world is getting smaller, knowledge is becoming more egalitarian and medical care is becoming more standardized across nations.”

The Lung Institute utilizes autologous stem cells, extracted from a patient’s blood or bone marrow. The cells are harvested and almost immediately reintroduced into the patient’s body. To date the Lung Institute has treated over 4,000 patients, with 84.5 percent of patients reporting an improvement in their quality of life.

If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic pulmonary condition, the Lung Institute may be able to help. For more information, contact us today.


  1. Phoebe

    3 months ago

    Hi Sarah,

    While there are a variety of treatment options for various pulmonary conditions, we recommend asking your doctor what treatments would be best for your condition. There are several types of pulmonary conditions that may cause inflammation, so it’s important to talk with your doctor to figure out the best treatment plan for you. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  2. Sarah

    3 months ago

    What can be done for an inflamed right lung?

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* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

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