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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1

Stem cell therapy: A dawn or dusk of hope

Department of Biochemistry, JSS Medical College, JSS University, Mysore, India

Date of Web Publication17-Apr-2013

Correspondence Address:
Akila Prashant
Department of Biochemistry, JSS Medical College, JSS University, Mysore
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2278-344X.110556

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How to cite this article:
Prashant A, Vishwanath P. Stem cell therapy: A dawn or dusk of hope. Int J Health Allied Sci 2013;2:1

How to cite this URL:
Prashant A, Vishwanath P. Stem cell therapy: A dawn or dusk of hope. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2013 [cited 2022 Jan 23];2:1. Available from: https://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2013/2/1/1/110556

Great progress has been made in the recent years in understanding the properties of stem cell and unraveling their potential for therapeutic applications. The stem cells have the ability to self-renew and give rise to new generation of cells that can multiply. Hence, the medical researchers believe that there is a lot of potential to replace the damaged or diseased tissues in the body without the risk of rejections. Currently, stem cells are being used to treat leukemia, thalassemia, and neuro and muscle degenerative ailments, and there are some successful trials in the case of diabetes, cardiac failure, and spinal cord injuries. Aging results from the progressive depletion of stem cells, so the introduction of new stem cells has the potential of slowing down or reversing this process. They can be used as the key in reversing the effects of ageing and prolonging our lives. Anti-aging therapy helps to improve overall physical condition of the patients, resulting in less tiredness, improvement of gait and posture, and work capacity. Mental capacities may also improve, leading to acceleration of decision making and restoration of the short-term memory. Human stem cells can be used to generate cells that are important for certain drug or toxin screenings as these cells may offer a safer, more reliable test by mimicking a more realistic human environment, thus avoiding the use of animal models.

However, like any other therapy, stem cells carry their own pros and cons. The long-term side effects of the therapy remain unknown. Some studies have shown that when these cells were used in patients with heart disease, it made the coronary arteries narrower. [1] Adult stem cells being the patient's own cells can be used to treat disease without the risk of rejection, while treating with embryonic stem cells may cause rejection as they are not a patient's own cells. However, embryonic stem cells can develop into any cell types of the body and may be more versatile than adult stem cells. Moreover, adult stem cells are pre-specialized, for instance, blood stem cells make only blood cells, and brain stem cells make only brain cells. Both human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells have been shown to experience genetic and phenotypic drift in long-term in vitro culture. Removal of stem cells from an embryo results in the death of the embryo, whereas removal of adult stem cells does not involve such impediment and is, therefore, ethically more accepted.

While stem cell research shows great promise, researchers continue to face many biological, technological, and ethical challenges that must be overcome before innovations can be developed and incorporated into clinical practice. There is still a long way off for the widespread use of stem cell-based therapies that could benefit vast numbers of patients, including those with cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, and heart diseases. Recently, two pioneers of stem cell research, Dr. John B Gurdon of the University of Cambridge in England and Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan, have been awarded the Noble Price in Physiology or Medicine, which has laid the foundation for regenerative medicine. Prof. Gurdon used a gut sample to clone frogs and Prof. Yamanaka altered genes to reprogramme cells. They showed that adult cells can be transformed back into embryo-like stem cells, which may one day re-grow tissues in damaged brains, hearts, or other organs. The techniques they developed reach to the beginnings of life and have raised hopes among the biologists about them enabling replacement tissues to be generated from a patient's own cells for use against a wide variety of degenerative diseases.

However, there are major challenges associated with the delivery of stem cell therapies as they require careful preparation, expansion, and characterization. The high cost involved in these processes will limit the companies that play a central role in stem cell therapies to fully evaluate their merit in clinical trials. Given that there is a potential for late tumor formation resulting from inadvertent mutagenesis in the creation of stem cell products, prolonged monitoring of animals used in preclinical studies and long-term monitoring of clinical trial participants will be required. Hence, there is a gap between public expectations and the spectrum of ongoing stem cell clinical trials. Even though the field is highly promising, it lacks significant private investment and is largely reliant on public support.

  References Top

1.Kang HJ, Kim HS, Zhang SY, Park KW, Cho HJ, Koo BK, et al. Effects of intracoronary infusion of peripheral blood stem-cells mobilised with granulocyte-colony stimulating factor on left ventricular systolic function and restenosis after coronary stenting in myocardial infarction: The MAGIC cell randomised clinical trial. Lancet 2004;363:751-6.  Back to cited text no. 1


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