FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are stem cells?
Cells are categorized as “stem” cells when they have the ability, as they divide and reproduce, to generate cells of several different types. The Stem Cell Institute works with many different types of stem cells. Stem cells can be “pluripotent” (able to generate any type of cell found in the body), “multipotent” (able to generate a limited number of different cell types), or oligopotent (able to generate two or more cell types within a specific tissue).
What is the difference between totipotent, pluripotent, and multipotent?
Totipotent cells can form all the cell types in a body, plus the extraembryonic, or placental, cells. Embryonic cells within the first couple of cell divisions after fertilization are the only cells that are totipotent. Pluripotent cells can give rise to all of the cell types that make up the body; embryonic stem cells are considered pluripotent. Multipotent cells can develop into more than one cell type, but are more limited than pluripotent cells; adult stem cells and cord blood stem cells are considered multipotent.
How are stem cells currently used to treat disease?
Somatic stem cells, such as blood-forming stem cells in bone marrow (called hematopoietic stem cells, or HSCs), are currently the only type of stem cell commonly used to treat human diseases. Doctors have been transferring HSCs in bone marrow transplants for over 40 years. More advanced techniques for collecting, or “harvesting,” HSCs are now used in order to treat leukemia, lymphoma and several inherited blood disorders. The clinical potential of somatic stem cells has also been demonstrated in the treatment of other human diseases that include diabetes and advanced kidney cancer. However, these newer uses involved studies with a very limited number of patients.
What are the potential benefits of stem cell research?
Regenerative medicine holds the promise of new ways to repair cardiovascular damage and of improved cancer treatment. Moreover, there are many other diseases and afflictions that stand to be positively impacted by stem cell research including: stroke, respiratory disease, diabetes (respectively 3, 4 and 7 on the CDC list of causes of death), neurological disorders, spinal cord injuries, and some birth defects. Potential benefits of stem cell research are numerous and range from development and testing of new drugs to cell-based therapies in which stem cells are used to replace ailing or destroyed tissue or cells. However, there are many technical hurdles between the promise of stem cells and the realization of these uses, which will only be overcome by continued intensive stem cell research.
What pain can be treated with this procedure?
Stem cell therapy is a potential treatment option for a wide variety of chronic pain issues. Common conditions include arthritis, ligament and tendon tears, osteonecrosis and bursitis.
Why should I consider stem cell therapy?
Stem cell therapy is a swift treatment option that has the potential to provide patients with relief from chronic pain. The procedure takes less than a day and offers an affordable alternative for patients who may be contemplating surgery or joint replacement. Not only is the procedure quick, but many patients resume normal activities immediately following the treatment, avoiding a lengthy rehabilitation period.