The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Looking Beyond the Controversy
In the past decade or so, controversy has lingered over the ethical implications perceived by some with regard to a type of stem cell the Lung Institute does not use in treatment–embryonic stem cells.
The stem cells now being used to treat diseases in the United States are autologous stem cells, or adult stem cells. Autologous stem cells are essentially “blank” cells that haven’t been assigned a specific function. These special cells have the capability to self-renew and even replicate into new, healthy tissue. Which is why many scientists are fascinated by the future of autologous stem cell treatments.
What Are Adult Stem Cells Being Used To Treat?
Stem cell treatments have been around much longer than most people realize. For example, it was in 1968 when the first stem cells were used during the first bone marrow transplant. The cells were adapted to treat a patient living with severe leukemia by introducing new, healthy cells into the patient’s bloodstream. Since that procedure, bone marrow transplants have become standard in treating several forms of cancer. Stem cell treatments didn’t stop there.
During the 21st century, researchers have unlocked a whole slew of opportunities with autologous stem cell treatments. Doctors are using adult stem cells in the treatment of orthopedic injuries and arthritis. With the application of these cells to a patient’s injury, researchers have found that the tissue begins the healing process and can relieve the symptoms of pain. Arthritis patients have also experienced better mobility with their damaged ligaments. There is documented evidence that suggests stem cells help with the healing of cartilage around different joints.
At a seminar with TED Blog, Dr. Susan Lim discussed the need for stem cells to help treat patients in need of organ replacements. Currently, she has been using stem cells derived from fat tissue to target them for new healing factors, like treating blindness. Several of her patients are detailing increased visibility from stem cell therapy. Other stem cell treatments have included reducing the effects of diabetes and improving memory function in patients with Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease.
With more time and research, stem cell therapy will be used to treat a greater number of diseases in coming years. If you are interested in learning more about stem cells, there are some websites and books available that detail the advancements in stem cell research and therapy. At the Lung Institute, right now, we are treating lung disease with stem cells. If you or a loved one is interested in stem cell therapy, contact us at today to learn more or call (800) 729-3065.