Stem Cells

Stem Cells

  Autor NN Team Data: 25.06.2009

Stem Cells
People discuss more and more about stem cells, the new wonder of modern medicine which can treat so many severe diseases, from cancer to paralysis. Some say that this is the biggest discovery of the modern medicine; others say that it's just a hoax, meant to make money for certain companies. If this is true or not, only time will tell. Until then, most specialists consider that stem cells are, or might become, the most important cure of our millennium. Although there still are many things to clear, the specialists say that it won't hurt if we collect the stem cells of our children. Maybe during the next five years, there will be newer discoveries which will allow us to cure the most severe disease with their help. 

What are the stem cells? 
The stem cells or simply stem, are multipotent cells, meaning that if they reach a proper environment, they might turn into different types of cells and human tissues and may take the function of the missing cells. No other cell in the human body can turn into something different than it is now. Therefore, a hepatocyte for example, cannot be but a hepatocyte and cannot turn into something else. 

What diseases can be cured with Stem cells? 
The Stem cells transplant may cure the diseases of hematopoietic organs, and also the diseases caused by lesions of bone marrow. Different types of cancer can be treated, leukemia, stroke squeal, anemia, viral infections complications, bone diseases and cartilage ones, eye's diseases, liver diseases, Parkinson's disease. But the researches are still in process and the Stem cells will surely have other uses too, in time. 
One of the advantages of this type of treatment is that the transplant is autologous, meaning that the transplanted cells come from the same person who will be treated, so the graft will be perfectly compatible and there is no risk for the cells to be rejected by the body. However, the cells can be used by the first- degree relatives of the donor, if there is compatibility. 

How are the Stem cells collected? 
The cells are collected from the umbilical cord blood, at birth. The surgery is non-invasive and painless, both for the mother and for the child. After the birth, the doctor extracts blood from the umbilical cord, 
and then the blood will be taken by a company which deals with cellsstorage and transport and will take it to the cell bank. There, the bloodwill be processed and treated in order to see if Stem cells can beextracted from it. In case this thing is possible, the cells are treatedand stored in special conditions, at very low temperatures. Thus, they willbe kept until the moment they need to be used for the treatment.

What should I do? 
The future parents only have to contact one of the companies that deal with Stem cell transportation, treatment and storage. After signing a contract, they will receive the collecting kit which must be included in the maternity luggage. Before the birth, the parents must inform the gynecologist that he will have to collect umbilical cord blood, to make sure that he knows the procedure and can make it. The procedure is not difficult, but is somewhat delicate because the sample must be sterile and the extracted blood must be enough. When the labor starts, the company with which the contract was signed must be informed, and they will send a representative to the maternity, to take the extracted blood. This blood will be transported to the cell bank in special conditions, to be tested. A few weeks after the birth, the parents will be informed whether the umbilical blood sample could be used or no. The Stem cells collecting is quite easy to be done, it's non-invasive and it implies little efforts from both parents, but it's a type of insurance for the life of your child. In a few years, it's possible for the transplant technique to me more improved and more efficient than nowadays. 

Read the English version of this article: Stem Cells