Saturday, January 19, 2019

Stem Cell Research Facilities Hope To Conquer Many Diseases

By Henry Robinson

One can only marvel at the way that medical science has progressed over the last few decades. Diseases that used to mow down millions of people no longer pose a threat. Organs are routinely transplanted and serious disabilities can be corrected. The list goes on and on. Scientific efforts are also ongoing and progress is made in many different fields. Stem cell research facilities believe that they are working in a field that will prove to forever change the way diseases are treated.

Bone marrow transplants have been performed for some years. Until now, however, only patients suffering from leukemia and other serious blood related diseases received them. These patients often receive chemo therapy and this kills all the cells indiscriminately. With bone marrow transplants, the idea is to stimulate the growth of new, healthy cells. The treatment is no yet failsafe, however, and it is still used only as a last resort.

At present, bone marrow transplants can at best add a few years to the life expectancy of patients. It is not a cure for cancer. But scientists hope that new studies and ongoing efforts will eventually result in an actual cure for many different types of cancer. The complex nature of these studies necessitates a very slow pace, however. Scientists admit that a cure for cancer is still some years away.

It is not just a possible cure for cancer that interests researchers in this field. They think that bone marrow transplants will one day also be used to replace damaged cells in the brain itself. If this becomes possible, the terrible consequences of diseases like Alzheimer and other degenerative brain diseases could be turned back. Those suffering from physical brain damage and spine injuries will also benefit.

Heart disease is still one of the three biggest killer diseases in the world. Researchers are working at ways in which to replace damaged heart cells with healthy ones which will grow there after a bone marrow transplant. This is exciting news because the ability to cure many different types of heart disease will benefit millions of people. Research in this area is still in its infancy, however.

There are numerous critics and controversy constantly surrounds the issue of bone marrow transplants. Critics say that there is not a shred of scientific evidence that bone marrow transplants hold any benefits. In fact, they say that these transplants are extremely risky. There are major ethical obstacles too, because it has become common practice to harvest the cells from the umbilical cord of babies still in the womb. This should raise many red flags.

Many critics also lambast their colleagues studying bone marrow transplants for creating a false impression about the progress they are making. No positive results will be available for many years to come and researchers simply raise the hopes of numerous desperate patients. They accuse researchers of creating high expectations simply in order to attract even more funding for their projects and studies.

One thing is sure, however. If even a fraction of the potential benefits of bone marrow transplants can be unlocked millions of people will indeed benefit. One can just hope that radical new treatment methods are really just around the corner.

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