Stem cell therapy is the use of stem cells to treat or prevent a disease or condition. Bone marrow transplant is the most widely used stem cell therapy, but some therapies derived from umbilical cord blood are also in use. Research is underway to develop various sources for stem cells, and to apply stem cell treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and conditions, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions. With the ability of scientists to isolate and culture embryonic stem cells, and with scientists’ growing ability to create stem cells using somatic cell nuclear transfer and techniques to create induced pluripotent stem cells, controversy has crept in, both related to abortion politics and to human cloning. Additionally, efforts to market treatments based on transplant of stored umbilical cord blood have proven controversial.
In the United States – stem cell therapy has been subjected to much debate – and in many cases – has been subjected to negative legislation. Not so abroad – stem cell therapy is alive and kicking – and providing amazing results.
Doctors credit stem cell therapy for saving girl’s life
An experimental stem cell treatment has saved the life of a Romanian girl with a deadly bone marrow disease after two bone marrow transplants failed.
Bianca, 7, suffers from aplastic anemia – a deadly condition where bone marrow produces insufficient cells to replenish blood cells – and doctors gave her just months to live.
Bianca traveled to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center to receive PLacental eXpanded cells therapy – PLX.
Prof. Reuven Or, Director of Bone Marrow Transplantation at Hadassah, explained: “We use here human cells that are universal, that can be given to patients regardless of typing or matching, and they can induce in the body probably many important things, including supporting bone marrow function.”
Cells extracted from human placenta were processed in a laboratory before being injected into Bianca. Within ten days of the final round of treatment, her body restarted its production of red and white blood cells and blood platelets.
Zami Aberman, Chairman and CEO of Pluristem, the company behind the therapy, believes it could treat a wide range of conditions.
“We have animal studies that demonstrate that our cells can be good to treat patients with multiple sclerosis or inflammatory bowel disease….We have evidence that we can use the cell for orthopedic use in repetitive injuries, like sport injuries.”
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photo credit: stokpic