Stem cell therapy: The next panacea for all ailments in medical sector
The notion of miraculous curing and bodies healing themselves goes beyond the world of medicine. Stem cell research has certainly brought the concept of regenerative medicine on to a whole new pedestal. Over the years, this field has emerged as a promising frontier in biomedical research and therapeutics.
Imbued with unique regenerative abilities, stem cells are basically primitive cells that can differentiate, or develop into, a variety of specific cell types. They are unique in their capacity to self-renew by dividing and transforming into a wide array of more specialized cells, such as muscle cells, blood cells, and brain cells.
Due to the potential of becoming any kind of cell, stem cells are also known as "undifferentiated cells". Accelerating the body’s natural healing process, these cells are effective in alleviating pain without the need for pain-killing medications.
Stem cells are found in most, if not all, multi-cellular organisms. The efficacy of these cells in treating the diseases, traditionally considered “degenerative, inoperable and irremediable” such as diabetes, heart disease, spinal cord injuries, has garnered worldwide attention.
The extensive healing properties of stem cells have rendered them the stature of a potential source for cell-replacement therapies. Moreover, their ability to self-renew offers substantial potential for the generation of tissues with negligible risk of adverse effects.
A stem cell therapy involves injecting these cells around the damaged nerves, tendons, joints or muscle tissue. Some of the most common conditions which are treated using this therapy include osteoarthritis knee pain, tennis elbow, shoulder pains or rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis, Achilles tendon injuries and cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis. However, there is no limit to the type of diseases that can be treated with stem cell therapy.
The history of this therapy in India can be traced back to more than half a decade back when the country forayed into the stem cell research arena on an extensive scale. The country is credited with the resources and pragmatism required to pioneer this prominent area of biology. Moreover, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India has established a proficient task force for providing financial support to this area.
Keeping up with the global thrust, the Indian scientists lay great emphasis on the aspects of tissue-specific stem cell research - fetal and adult origins. A revised draft of National Guidelines for Stem Cell Research, 2017 has been issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in association with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT). The draft includes all the recent advances pertaining to the stem cell sector.
The persistent efforts and zeal exuded by the Government of India have carved a niche for stem cell research in the country. Creating several cell lines and more than 100 publications in this field, the country is making great strides in stem cell research. Indian researchers and doctors are rigorously focusing on the clinical application of stem cells in ophthalmology, cardiology, and diabetes.
As a matter of fact, various stem cell therapies are still in the experimental stages and subjected to controversies at present. For stem cell therapy to be successful, certain factors are to be considered. Understanding the mechanisms by which stem cells function is one of the common challenges faced in this therapy. Also, the identification and isolation of stem cells from the tissue and their differentiation into the desired cell types prove to be a daunting task at times. It is equally challenging to prevent immune rejection after stem cell transplantation. Special care is to be taken if the cells are to be obtained from embryos and fetuses.
The studies based on stems cells continue to advance knowledge about the development of an organism from a single cell and the replacement of damaged cells in adult organisms. These cells are commonly used to screen new drugs in the pharmaceutical field. Apart from this, they have enormous potential in health and medical research for identifying the causes of birth defects.
Certainly, stem cell therapy is the most remarkable achievement in the field of modern medicine. It is likely to be the next big thing in modern therapeutics across the globe. Imparting a fresh lease of life to someone, the therapy is reckoned as the next panacea for all ailments. It is undoubtedly a life-saving blessing in its true sense, which is bound to broaden the horizon of the medical sector in the upcoming years.