[FAQ] – Stem cell treatment explained
When it comes to stem cell treatment, people often have a lot of questions. Here, GO.CARE would like to explain everything that you need to know about this treatment. If you have any other questions or need further explanation, don’t hesitate to contact us!
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells with the ability to create other functional cells. They play an important role in the healing of body cells. Whenever an old cell is damaged/ destroyed, stem cells start creating new ones to replace it.
Due to their immunomodulatory properties, stem cells are capable of boosting the immune system, as well as healing injuries caused by different diseases and chronic conditions. Their therapeutic effects are achievable by stimulating the body to self-repair.
Types of Stem Cells based on their differentiation capability
- Totipotent: A totipotent stem cell is a fertilized egg from which all other stem cells are created. They have the potential to create an entire organism.
- Pluripotent: Pluripotent stem cells can divide themselves into every type of human cell/tissue. However, unlike totipotent cells, they cannot create an entire organism.
- Multipotent: Multipotent cells have limited differentiating capacity, as they can only create a small range of cell types. However, they can develop into multiple specialized cell types in an organ or specific tissue. Most adult stem cells are multipotent.
- Oligopotent: Oligopotent cells can differentiate into very few stem cell types. The number of cells they can differentiate into is rather limited.
- Unipotent: Unipotent stem cells are rarely used, as they have the capacity to differentiate into only one type of cell.
What is Stem cell treatment?
Stem cell therapy is a type of treatment that uses stem cells (or cells that originate from them) to replace/ repair damaged cells and tissues. These cells can be intravenously injected, transplanted into the damaged tissue directly, or even recruited from the patient’s own tissues for self-repair.
Although it is not a cure, stem cell therapy has been proven to work for many different types of diseases and conditions.
Where can you get Stem Cells from?
Based on their source, stem cells can be classified into the 3 following types:
1. Autologous stem cells
These are stem cells taken from the patient’s own body. After the harvesting process, they are stored and then injected back to that same person. Autologous stem cells can be collected from the patient’s body fat, bone marrow, blood, etc.
For autologous transplantation, the older the patients, the fewer the number of stem cells can be extracted from the patient, and the lower the odds of improvements.
2. Allogeneic stem cells
Allogeneic stem cells are those from a donor. They can come from multiple sources – including umbilical cord, placenta, amniotic fluid, and bone marrow.
Stem cells can also be collected from the embryos, but this practice is highly discouraged by the vast majority of MDs as they may cause tumors (they grow and multiply way too quickly).
Even though there are numerous sources of stem cells, in adults they are predominantly created in the bone marrow.
3. Animal stem cells
Collected from animals like rabbits and sheep, animal stem cells are mainly used for beauty and anti-aging treatment.
What are Adult and Embryonic stem cells?
Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells that exist in the human body AFTER the baby is born.
Embryonic stem cells are found in the embryo – BEFORE the baby is fully developed.
Adult stem cells are more limited in the ability to differentiate into new cells.
Why are embryonic stem cells controversial?
Despite their better differentiation capability, embryonic stem cells are rarely used due to ethical issues. In order to harvest them, doctors will have to destroy embryos, which have the potential to turn into a baby if left in the mother’s womb.
On the other hand, embryonic stem cells can cause more harm than good, as they can continue to differentiate endlessly. This uncontrollable growth means that they can cause tumors once injected into a patient’s body.
The best way to avoid these issues is by using adult stem cells, which are easily found and collected from different sources. Adult stem cells are completely safe and are used by all of our clinical partners.
What are the main sources of stem cells for medical treatment?
Although there are various sources of stem cells, the most popular ones are the bone marrow, umbilical cord, placenta, and the patient’s own body fat.
What can Stem cells do?
Stem cells hold 2 characteristics:
- First, the ability to self-renew (perform mitosis). Self-renewal is a part of the cell cycle when replicated chromosomes are separated into two new nuclei. This leads to the creation of identical replicated cells. No other cell in the body has the natural ability to generate new cell types.
- Second, to differentiate into specialized cells such as cartilage, heart cells, pancreatic cells, liver cells, and neurons. This regenerative ability makes stem cells the ideal choice to tackle many of today’s chronic diseases.
Does stem cell therapy have any side effects?
Stem cell treatment comes with very few, if any, side effects. Some patients may have minor headaches shortly after the injection, but that is a sign of the stem cells working in the body. Other patients might feel nausea, but this should fade within a few hours.
At times, a patient can notice how his condition symptoms are aggravated, which means that the stem cells have found their target and are regenerating them. These symptoms will normally go away after a few hours.
How are stem cells injected?
Common methods include intravenous (IV), Lumbar Puncture, Retro-Bulbar, and local injection.
What are Mesenchymal stem cells?
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are adult stem cells that have the capacity to differentiate into many types of cells, such as bone, cartilage, muscle, etc. These cells are capable of secreting important cytokines and growth factors. Hence, MSCs can regulate the immune system, as well as reduce inflammation, scarring, and apoptosis.
Adult stem cells are ideal for degenerative diseases.
Are Mesenchymal stem cells FDA approved?
The USA’s Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved some stem cell treatments for clinical trials.
What conditions can stem cells treat?
Due to their various therapeutic effects, stem cells can be utilized in the treatment of various diseases. You can check out the full list here: List of diseases that stem cells can aid in treating.
Like all medical procedures, Stem Cell treatment does have a success and failure rate. No guarantee or claim of cure is valid all the time. To determine the success rate, patients are advised to perform some medical check-ups first.
How long does stem cell treatment take?
It depends on the patient’s condition. However, a treatment can last anywhere between 2 days and one month. The exact time will vary depending on each patient’s case and health condition.
How do stem cells work?
Stem cells’ main function is to create more cells and regenerate damaged ones. Most of the time, this process is carried out by the body itself.
When someone has an autoimmune condition/ injury, their body’s ability to regenerate cells is affected. In that case, stem cells can be injected into the body to stimulate the healing process.
How long will it take for me to observe the results?
Most patients do not notice immediate improvements. Often, stem cells reach their full potential several months after injection. In any case, there are many patients who do see results during their treatment.
Can I smoke or drink alcohol during and after stem cell treatment?
It is strongly advised for patients NOT to smoke nor drink alcohol while performing stem cell therapy. Drinking and smoking can damage the stem cells, or even kill them.
How are treatment protocols determined?
Each patient’s case is different. Therefore, the doctors will have to go through a patient’s medical documents and reports first to figure out the best treatment protocol.
Are stem cells safe?
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), Umbilical cord stem cells (UCBSCs), Adipose, Animal and Bone marrow stem cells are extremely safe. Unlike embryonic stem cells, these cells do not cause tumors or cancer.
How are stem cells processed at the laboratory?
Umbilical cord stem cells are commonly extracted from a newborn baby’s umbilical cord – as permitted by the mother. These umbilical cords are always tested.
Bone marrow cells from donors are properly tested for diseases and other medical issues. All donors are tested for hepatitis, HIV, as well as other diseases.
Is stem cell therapy good for older people?
Yes, older people can definitely perform stem cell treatment. Age is not a deterrent for it, as people from any age can benefit from regenerative therapies.
It’s worth to note that when you get older, there will be a gradual decrease in your number of body stem cells – as well as their capability to self-renew and differentiate. Hence, stem cell therapy can aid in repopulating your stem cell pool, which then stimulates body rejuvenation.
At what age should we do stem cell treatment?
Usually, a patient needs to be at least 6 months to 1 year old in order to administer stem cells. Apart from that, there is no other age limit. However, the decision to perform stem cell treatment should be based on your own needs. For anti-aging purposes, those over 30 years old are generally the best candidates. For medical treatment purposes, age is not an important factor.
Do you use embryonic stem cells?
Our clinical partners only use either adult or animal stem cells. We highly discourage people from using embryonic stem cells for the above-mentioned reasons.
What stem cells do GO.CARE’s partners use?
- Umbilical Cord Stem Cells, Placenta Stem Cells, Bone Marrow Stem Cells
- Animal Stem Cells (Sheep and Rabbit)
- Autologous Adipose Stem Cells
What is the cost of stem cell treatment?
The prices will vary greatly depending on many factors (medical condition, type of stem cells, days of treatment, number of stem cells, etc.). Normally, the average cost ranges from 5,000 to 92,000 USD.
To learn more about our stem cell partners & treatment services, check it out here!
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