Stem cell therapy is a cutting-edge form of therapy that may offer new medical treatments. Stem cells are being used in this new therapy to attempt to treat various types of diseases and injuries. However, because this therapy is so new it is subject to much debate and controversy. Before you or a loved one are recipients of stem cell therapy, be sure to do your research first. To understand what this therapy entails, it is first important to understand what stem cells are.
What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are the cells from which all other cells are created. Stem cells may divide to form more cells. These new cells can then become new stem cells or specialized cells with more specific functions such as a blood cell or brain cell. The stem cell is unique to other types of cells because it is the only cell that can generate new cell types making this powerhouse of a cell of interest to medical researchers.
Stem cells are particularly valuable to medical researchers because they provide a significant amount of information to researchers just from watching these cells mature such as getting a better understanding of how diseases develop. Also, because stem cells are able to generate new healthy cells and cells with specialized functions, they have the potential to be used in people to regenerate and repair tissues that have been damaged or affected by disease. Before using investigational drugs in people, researchers also may be able to use some types of stem cells to test drugs for safety and quality.
There are various types of stem cells such as the embryonic stem cell, adult stem cells, adult cells altered to have embryonic stem cells, and perinatal cells. Embryonic stem cells come from embryos that are typically only three to five days old. At this early phase in an embryo’s development, the embryo, also known as a blastocyst, can become any type of cell in the body that potentially could allow the stem cell to be used to regenerate or repair diseased tissue and organs. Adult stem cells are found in adult tissues and have a more limited ability to give rise to different types of cells. However, adult stem cells are still in the testing phases and the research is still being developed as to what all the adult stem cells may be able to create. Some scientists have transformed regular adult cells into stem cells using a technique known as genetic reprogramming. By altering the genes that exist in the adult stem cells, it may be possible for researchers to reprogram the cells to act like an embryonic cell. Perinatal stem cells are found in amniotic fluid as well as the umbilical cord blood and have the ability to change into specialized cells.
Who May Benefit from Stem Cell Therapies?
Examples of types of conditions or diseases that may benefit from stem cell therapy include but are not limited to spinal cord injuries, type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, organ failure, stroke, and cancer, among other types of diseases.
What are the Ethical Considerations for Using Stem Cells?
Using embryonic stem cells has been the subject of many controversial and ethical considerations because these cells are obtained from human embryos that are only days old. The National Institutes of Health (“NIH”) has attempted to promote ethics in using stem cells for research purposes by creating guidelines for human stem cell research.
According to NIH, “these guidelines implement Executive Order 13505, as it pertains to extramural NIH-funded stem cell research, establish policy and procedures under which the NIH will fund such research, and helps ensure that NIH-funded research in this area is ethically responsible, scientifically worthy, and conducted in accordance with applicable law.”
What is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell therapy is a newer form of medicine that seeks to initiate the repair of tissue that is injured, diseased or otherwise dysfunctional through the use of stem cells. Stem cell therapy is particularly helpful for patients who may have failing organs. Instead of an organ transplant which is in limited supply, stem cells are used instead of donated organs to repair failing organs.
The stem cells used in this type of therapy are produced in a lab and are manipulated to perform specialized functions such as blood cells or nerve cells. They are then implanted into a patient.
What Can Go Wrong with Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell therapy is still new and being researched. There are a lot of unknowns when using this type of therapy on human patients. For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, “embryonic stem cells can also grow irregularly or specialize in different cell types spontaneously. Researchers are studying how to control the growth and differentiation of embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells might also trigger an immune response in which the recipient’s body attacks the stem cells as foreign invaders, or the stem cells might simply fail to function as expected, with unknown consequences. Researchers continue to study how to avoid these possible complications.”
Unfortunately, because there are still so many unknowns and side effects of this type of therapy, some patients are harmed more than helped after undergoing stem cell therapy.
Do Your Research First
Before you or a loved one undergoes any treatment, especially a newer treatment such as stem cell therapy, it is essential to take your time to do your research first and weigh the pros and cons of the treatment option. Regarding stem cell therapy, the International Society for Stem Cell Research provides information relating to stem cells including important information you should know about stem cell treatments.
If you received stem cell therapy and you think you were injured as a result of this therapy, consider contacting a personal injury for a case evaluation. A Florida injury attorney at Searcy Denney can walk you through the process of gathering the evidence you need to evaluate your case and can advocate for you through the legal process from start to finish.
Call Searcy Denney Today for a Legal Consultation with a Florida Injury Lawyer
Dealing with injuries associated with stem cell therapy? If so, a Florida injury lawyer at Searcy Denney is ready to work with you and help you pursue the compensation you deserve for the injuries you sustained. Our experienced attorneys have helped people injured in accidents recover millions in damages via settlements and court verdicts.