About Adult Stem Cell Therapy
Our scientists are working to understand how to grow large amounts of adult stem cells, which have the potential to grow into 200+ cell types in cell culture.
Adult Stem Cell Therapy 101
The initial concept of regenerative medicine dates all the way back to 330 BC, when Aristotle observed that a lizard could grow back the lost tip of its tail.
Slowly over time, humans have grown to understand regenerative medicine, and how it may change the way we treat diseases. It's been only relatively recently that adult (non-embryonic) stem cell therapy, a type of regenerative medicine, has gathered fast momentum.
What are adult stem cells?
Adult (non-embryonic) stem cells are unspecialized or undifferentiated cells, which means they have yet to develop into a specific cell type. Found in most adult tissues, adult stem cells have two primary properties:
- They can self-renew, i.e., they have the ability to go through numerous cycles of cell division while maintaining their undifferentiated state.
- They have, as a group, unlimited potency, i.e., they have the capacity to grow into any cell type.
Simply put, adult stem cells have the potential to grow into any of the body's more than 200 cell types.
Where are stem cells found?
Adult stem cells have been found in most parts of the body, including brain, bone marrow, blood vessels, skin, teeth and heart. There are typically a small number of stem cells in each tissue. Due to their small number and rate of division (growth), it is difficult to grow adult stem cells in large numbers.
Scientists at the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center are working to understand how to grow large amounts of adult stem cells in cell culture. These scientists are also working with more "primitive" stem cells, isolated from the umbilical cord after normal births.
Stem Cell Transplants
Stem cell transplants, also referred to as bone marrow transplants, have been done since the late 1960s and are well-established treatments for blood cancers and bone marrow failure conditions. Umbilical cord blood also has stem cells that can be used for transplantation for these diseases.
Stem cell transplants for other diseases that use bone marrow, umbilical cord cells or other sources of stem cells are still experimental and need to viewed as such.
What is stem cell therapy?
The practice of stem cell therapy is not new: One of the oldest forms of it is the bone marrow transplant, which has been actively practiced since the late 1960s. Since then, scientists haven't slowed down with the advancement of adult stem cell therapy.
Every day, scientists worldwide are researching new ways we can harness stem cells to develop effective new treatments for a host of diseases. In the case of a patient suffering with a blood cancer such as leukemia, a bone marrow transplant will replace their unhealthy blood cells with healthy ones.
This same concept — inserting healthy cells so they may multiply and form new tissue or repair diseased tissue — can be applied to other forms of stem cell therapy.
Stem Cell Research
Stem cell research continues to advance as scientists learn how an organism develops from a single cell and how healthy cells replace damaged cells.
For example, the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center is collaborating to investigate the potential of a select group of umbilical cord stem cells in the treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gerhig's disease).
Developing a stem cell treatment that has been shown to be both safe and efficacious is not as simple as removing stem cells from one part of the body and putting it in another.
Working with appropriate regulatory agencies, the Midwest Stem Cell therapy Center is conducting R&D activities that will permit the Center to conduct human clinical trials on a variety of diseases over the next several years.
Similar to the development of a new drug, this process when completed, will assure patients in both clinical trials and eventually patients using the approved product, that the product is safe for use in humans and the stem cells being administered are effective in treating the injury or disease they are being used for.