The History of Stem cell treatment - GO.CARE Blog

The History of Stem cell treatment

Author: Jonathan Pham
Review Date: 21/10/2019 | Last Modified: 30/10/2019
The History of Stem cell treatment

The history of stem cell treatment started around the middle of the 19th century. At that time, scientists discovered that some cells are capable of producing other types of cells. Since then, stem cell research has attracted the attention of famous scientists all over the world.

Every human body contains more than 4 trillion cells that self-regenerate completely every 7 years, and stem cells are able to help pave the way in the right direction when one’s body is not responding properly.

Stem cell therapy is believed to be the answer to various chronic conditions. The potential applications of these cells are very promising. With more in-depth research, researchers have unveiled more and more interesting facts about stem cells.

How Stem cell therapy was developed

The history of stem cell treatment is truly fascinating. Regenerative cell therapy was first discovered in 1931. Ever since, the treatment has been used in countless cases – despite the demonization from conventional medical practitioners.

The first one to develop cell therapy was a Swiss professor and MD called Paul Niehans. This form of therapy was initially called Niehans Therapy. His patients included famous people such as Pope Pius XII, Academy award-winning actor Charles Chaplin, and Germany Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.

It was Dr. Paul Niehans who spearheaded the branch of medicine that is commonly known as regenerative medicine today. His defining discovery paved the way for future treatments, including stem cell therapy. Up to now, it has been over 80 years since Dr. Niehans changed the world through his numerous successes.

Below are some keystone events in the development of stem cell treatment:

1. 20th century’s first half

  • 1908: Russian histologist Alexander Alexadrowitsch Maximow coined the term “stem cell” after he discovered that all blood cells originated from a common precursor cell.
  • 1950: Scientists discovered 2 types of stem cells in the bone marrow with regenerating capability. Later, these cells would be named Hemapoetic and Mesenchymal.
  • 1951: Lorenz discovered that the allogeneic bone marrow cells of the same species could prevent the death of another animal whose hematopoiesis was stopped due to exposure to high radiation.
  • 1955: Main and Prehn proved that injections of healthy bone marrow allow for the acceptance of skin transplants in mice.
  • 1956: Dr. Edward Donall Thomas did the unimaginable when he treated a 3-year-old leukemia patient by injecting him with bone marrow cells harvested from his twin. Dr. Thomas was then awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1990.
  • 1958: Robert A. Good from the University of Minnesota successfully transplanted bone marrow to a child diagnosed with aplastic anemia.
  • 1960s: Scientists found out that adult brains contained stem cells that could differentiate into nerve cells.

2. 20th century’s second half

  • 1961: A group of Canadian scientists proved the existence of cells that have the ability to self-regenerate on an on-going basis. These were what we today refer to as stem cells.
  • 1968: The first bone marrow transplant was successfully performed to treat two siblings suffering from a combined immunodeficiency. At the University of Minnesota, a group of MDs became the first to ever use bone marrow transplants in order to cure two children, one with X-linked lymphopenic immune deficiency and another with Wishkott-Aldrich syndrome.
  • 1969: The above-mentioned Dr. Edward Donall Thomas was the first MD in history to successfully perform a bone marrow transplant using stem cells harvested from a donor.
  • 1974: Friedenstein noticed that a bone marrow contained cells that could renovate the bone tissue. This was how Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were first discovered and described.
  • 1978: Stem cells were discovered in human umbilical cord blood.
  • 1981: The first In Vitro stem cell line was developed from mice.
  • 1988: Stem cell lines from embryos were derived from a hamster. At an unspecified point later, thanks to Dr. Thomas, the use of bone marrow transplantation as a common procedure in treating blood cancer was established.
  • 1995: The first embryonic stem cell line was created from an ape.
  • 1996: Cloning efforts saw the first success with the creation of Dolly sheep.
  • 1997: Leukemia was originally traced back to the defects that popped up in some specific types of cancer cells.
  • 1998: James Thomson from the University of Wisconsin became the first one to obtain embryonic stem cells.
  • 1998: Cell Biologist James Alexander Thomson was the first scientist to derive the embryonic stem cell line. He later managed to derive human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) in 2007.
  • 1998: The John Hopkins University research team – led by John D. Gearhart, a renowned American developmental geneticist – managed to identify and isolate human pluripotent stem cells from human primordial germ cells, which are precursors of germs cells that are fully differentiated.

3. 21st century

  • 2001: Scientists found a way to differentiate in vitro-derived stem cells into tissues that can be used for transplantation.
  • 2002: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (international) raised funds up to the sum of 20 million dollars to support the studies of stem cells.
  • 2003: Oocytes were first created from mouse embryonic stem cells. This led to the hypothesis about the omnipotence of embryonic stem cells.
  • 2006 – 2007: The abovementioned James Alexander Thomson successfully turned somatic cells into a stem cell-like state. This was a new type of stem cell, which is currently known as human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS).
  • 2007: Shinya Yamanaka from the University of Kyoto and James Thomson discovered induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS).
  • 2009: By this time, 10000 articles dedicated to various studies and advantages of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been published.
  • 2012: Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka were awarded Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering that mature cells could be reprogrammed to become stem cells.
  • 2013: A human liver was created from stem cells for the first time.
  • 2014: The European Union approved the first stem cell-based therapy for diabetes treatment.

The future of stem cell treatment

Regenerative medicine – specifically, stem cell therapy – has become a groundbreaking medical therapy that can aid in treating countless types of conditions and diseases. In addition, the treatment is also useful for mending physical injuries, disabilities, and even for rejuvenation purposes.

For over a century, research in this fascinating field has been ongoing. In fact, not a year goes by without hundreds of studies being published in many scientific journals. With more studies, scientists continue to discover interesting uses of stem cells. These cells have helped thousands of patients improve their health and life quality. These include people who suffer from conditions such as heart disease, ALS, Cerebral Palsy, etc.

At GO.CARE, we pride ourselves on being able to provide patients with the best stem cell regenerative therapies. If you or your loved ones have a medical condition that can be potentially improved with stem cell treatments, feel free to write us an email or give us a call. We will be delighted to help you regain your quality of life!

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The History of Stem cell treatment. Accessed on October 8, 2019.

History of Stem Cell Research. Accessed on October 8, 2019.

History of Stem Cell Use. Accessed on October 8, 2019.

Cell Therapy: An Old And Successful Therapy | Villa Medica. Accessed on October 8, 2019.

Historical Milestones in Blood and Marrow Transplantation. Accessed on October 8, 2019.

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