It’s well known that a lizard can regenerate its tail if cut accidentally or as a defense mechanism. In humans, regeneration is limited to processes like the healing of a wound or knitting of a fractured bone.
In fact, in the human body, all cells don’t exhibit the same kind of regeneration. Hair cells and red blood cells (RBCs) follow a cyclic process. They are produced and perished continually and have a growth cum degeneration period.
The liver is the only organ that can grow to its original size. Neural and myocardial cells can renew to some extent but it is not cent percent. In all cases, the original morphology is not regained.
Role of Stem Cells:
The human embryo has the stem cells which have the ability to grow into any type of cell and form vital organs. This is the reason why placenta and cord blood is stored. Both are rich in stem cells and could be used to treat diseases like leukemia, sickle cell anemia, etc.
In adults, the stem cells are present in the brain, bone marrow, blood vessels, skeletal muscles, liver, etc. The adult stem cells can produce blood cells, epithelial cells (for skin and hair), fat cells, etc. The bone marrow stem cells are vital for the immune system.
Certain tissues (a group of cells) can produce cells of their own kind e.g. muscle cells, hepatic cells in the liver. Therefore adult stem cells are utilized by the body for normal wear and tear and for growth. The human body is undoubtedly called a wonderful machine.
Stem Cell Banks:
With stem cells advantages are many. They are capable of .into any tissue type. They can be used to generate new cells in case an organ is damaged or lost. As they are an exact genetic match, there is a very rare chance of rejection by the immune system of the body.
They can be used to cure age-related degeneration like arthritis, macular degeneration, etc. Arthritis in the knee joint is very common in women. It causes severe knee pain and confines people to wheelchairs.
Stem cells seem to offer a promising knee pain treatment and they can be used for knee replacement video itself. Therefore stem cells are extracted and stored to keep them as a future reserve for the case of emergency or ailments. This process is known as stem cell banking.
Umbilical cord and placenta are the richest sources of stem cells in human beings. As the baby is delivered, the institutes with proper storage facilities and licenses request the consent of the mother and the family for such storage.
Growth and evolution are nature’s secrets that scientists continue to unravel. A cut arm of a starfish could give rise to a new starfish; certain insects like crickets could regenerate its legs.
In human beings, adult cells can’t transform into any type but embryonic cells can. Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are the cells generated by the scientists for treatment and research purposes.
They take the normal adult cells like the skin cell or blood cell; modify it with genomic techniques so that they behave like embryonic stem cells. This research is in the initial stages and is being explored ardently.
Stem cell-based treatment is a savior for cancer patients. Cancer curing procedures like radiation therapy, chemotherapy may reduce the patient’s bone marrow stem cells.
This, in turn, will lead to less production of blood cells and the immune system might become very weak. In such cases, the stem cells from a healthy family member are injected to replenish the bone marrow. Even entire bone marrow transplantation is possible using cell harvesting methods.
It is also used in regenerative orthopedics. As the body’s ability to produce new cells declines with age, joint pains such as knee pain, back pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, etc become more common. Stem cell rejuvenation is in practice for Knee Pain Treatment in India. In the future, it might also be used for knee replacement.
Damaged organs are treated by regeneration with the help of stem cells of the patient. Stem cell therapy might also be used to treat cardiovascular and neural genetic disorders.