Advances in stem cell research offer hope for patients suffering from severe diseases and life-threatening ailments. Most of the cells in the human body are immutable and highly specialized. In contrast, stem cells have an exceptional ability to differentiate into any of the hundreds of specialized cells that makes human body regeneration (Bacakova et al., 2018). Scientists are now studying how stem cell transplantation and therapy can be used to restore the functioning of damaged cells, tissues, and organ systems. Stem cell research should be developed extensively since it provides a range of benefits, including stem cell transplantation, contribution to regenerative therapies, and the promotion of knowledge about donations.
Stem Cell Transplantation
In some diseases, stem cell transplantation (SCT) is the only treatment method. Simultaneously, in other cases, it is used as a last resort option due to related risks (GVHD, VOD, mucositis, lung problems, bleeding, and infections). In general, chemotherapy and radiation therapy damage the bone marrow and impair the immune system’s hematopoietic function. In such cases, the SCT helps the body restore the latter. The transplanted cells derived from the peripheral blood, cord blood, or bone marrow replace damaged bone marrow areas reviving the body’s ability to produce healthy blood cells (Bacakova et al., 2018).
There are two treatment methods: allogeneic and autologous transplantation. In the first one, the patient receives stem cells from a compatible donor, a sibling, or an unrelated person (Bacakova et al., 2018). In the second method, the patient receives his or her stem cells. Allogeneic stem cell transplantation assists in curing some types of cancer, in particular leukemia. For instance, Poiré et al. (2018) found that SCT is useful and beneficial as a care consolidation strategy both for young and older (60+) patients. According to the study’s results, the SCT treatment in first complete remission (CR1) of FLT3-ITD AML elderly patients resulted in 2 years of overall survival and 56% of leukemia-free survival (Poiré et al., 2018).
The study also revealed 25% of relapse incidence and 18% of non-relapse mortality that is typical for the investigated population. Interestingly, the younger populations’ results turned to be only slightly superior. In general, SCT is best applicable for all AML patients in the early disease phase as it starts to lose its effectiveness beyond CR1. Over a million transplants have been performed worldwide, and this number continues to grow (Cafasso, 2017). Following this procedure, many blood cancer patients live longer or are entirely cured.
Contribution to Regenerative Therapies
The benefits of stem cell research include the development of the field of regenerative medicine. Stem cells can repair and replace damaged cells and be cultured in a laboratory to grow new organs for people awaiting a transplant. Stem cell regenerative therapy helps the body to heal itself by maintaining a balance between infected and newly produced cells. For example, caregivers may implant sound pancreatic cells in a diabetic patient to restore insulin production.
The tissues of the liver, muscles, cornea of the eye, heart, and other organs have already been obtained from stem cells. What is more, scientists have managed to stimulate the regeneration of bone tissue with osteoporosis by applying mesenchymal stem cells (De Luca et al., 2019). Research is also underway to investigate the mechanisms of genetic regulation of stem cell differentiation. The most significant was the reprogramming of human somatic cells into pluripotent embryonic ones. It can revolutionize the treatment of myocardial infarction, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and spinal injuries soon.
Several research centers in the USA and Japan are actively investigating the possibility of modifying human stem cells to obtain more effective biomedical cell products. They have already obtained cellular vaccines from genetically modified stem cells and are conducting further research on the creation of combined drugs carrying several therapeutic genes (De Luca et al., 2019). The discovery of biophysical mechanisms that influence programming and regeneration is of great importance for improving methods for obtaining stem cells and developing new biomaterials.
Promotions of the Knowledge about Donations
Stem cell research also promotes knowledge about donations and informs people on stem cell transplantation’s effectiveness in treating malignant blood diseases. Bone marrow and peripheral blood hematopoietic stem cells are unique materials and precursors of the body’s immune system (De Luca et al., 2019). They can multiply, and their potential for reproduction and maturation is excellent. When transplanted to a recipient, even in small quantities, they can completely restore hematopoiesis. However, today, this treatment method is not widespread due to the lack of donors, as people are still afraid to contribute (De Luca et al., 2019).
Healthy individuals should be informed that donation is safe, does not cause damage, and is almost painless. Presented studies make it clear that stem cells are essential for patients with leukemia, aplastic anemia, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, and other severe immunity disorders. Moreover, in many cases, a transplant is the only chance for recovery (De Luca et al., 2019). The tissue compatibility problem can be solved only by increasing the number of potential donors. Therefore, the promotion of donations and recruiting donors is one of the most critical modern medicine tasks.
Stem cell research is one of the priority areas of modern biology and medicine due to its promising potential to cure serious diseases. In general, the transplant procedure can mitigate the adverse effects of intensive chemotherapy, reducing the risk of relapse. The worldwide scientific community should pay close attention to developing technologies for using embryonic, fetal, cord blood cells and adult stem cells to repair damaged organs and tissues.
Of particular interest is studying the long-term consequences of genetic modification of individual cells for the organism (De Luca et al., 2019). The further insights may contribute to a real breakthrough in the treatment of hereditary pathology, cardiovascular, oncological illnesses, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, diabetes, and many other health problems. Encouragement of donor movement to help millions of people suffering from debilitating conditions is another crucial area of interest.
Bacakova, L., Zarubova, J.., Travnickova, M., Musilkova, J., Pajorova, J., Slepicka, P., … & Molitor, M. (2018). Stem cells: Their source, potency and use in regenerative therapies with focus on adipose-derived stem cells-a review. Biotechnology Advances, 36(4). 1111-1126. Web.
Cafasso, J. (2017). Stem cell research. Healthline. Web.
De Luca, M., Aiuti, A., Cossu, G., Parmar, M., Pellegrini, G., & Robey, P. G. (2019). Advances in stem cell research and therapeutic development. Nature Cell Biology, 21(7), 801-811. Web.
Poiré, X., Labopin, M., Polge, E., Passweg, J., Craddock, C., Blaise, D.,… & Nagler, A. (2018). Allogeneic stem cell transplantation benefits for patients ≥ 60 years with acute myeloid leukemia and FLT3 internal tandem duplication: A study from the Acute Leukemia Working Party of the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation. Haematologica, 103(2), 256-265. Web.