De Leon: Medical Tourism and the Future of Stem Cell Therapy (Part 2)

Posted: July 23, 2013 at 11:47 am

LAST week, we discussed the potential of medical tourism in the country which will also provide opportunities for destinations like Baguio once tapped, and subject to competitive and international standards and government/ regulatory requirements.

So much has been written and reported about Stem Cell Therapy including its extraordinary promises that research holds for the treatment of a wide range of diseases and conditions.

This week, lets delve deeper.

What is Stem Cell Therapy?

Cell Therapy has been interchangeably called many names such as cellular therapy, fresh cell therapy, live cell therapy, glandular therapy, or xenograph or xenotransplant therapy.

The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) describes stem cell therapy as a treatment that uses stem cells, or cells that come from stem cells, to replace or to repair a patients cells or tissues that are damaged. The stem cells might be put into the blood, or transplanted into the damaged tissue directly, or even recruited from the patients own tissues for self-repair.

Stem Cells have been differentiated based on where in the body or what stage in development they come from. ISCCR has enumerated them as follows (source:www.isscr.org):

1. Adult Stem Cells or Tissue-specific Stem Cells. Many adult tissues contain stem cells that can replace cells that die or restore tissue after injury. Skin, muscle, intestine and bone marrow, for example, each contain their own stem cells. In the bone marrow, billions of new blood cells are made every day from blood-forming stem cells. Adult stem cells are tissue-specific, meaning they are found in a given tissue in our bodies and generate the mature cell types within that particular tissue or organ. It is not clear whether all organs, such as the heart, contain stem cells. The term adult stem cells is often used very broadly and may include fetal and cord blood stem cells.

Another type of adult stem cell is the mesenchymal stem cell. These are found in a number of tissues, including bone marrow, and may be able to produce bone, cartilage and fat. It is also possible that these or similar cells may aid in the regeneration of tissues. Extensive animal studies are currently ongoing to determine if these cells may be used for treatment of diseases such as arthritis and non-healing bone fractures. It is also possible that these or similar cells modulate the immune system in response to injury.

2. Fetal Stem Cells. Fetal stem cells are taken from the fetus. The developing baby is referred to as a fetus from approximately 10 weeks of gestation. Most tissues in a fetus contain stem cells that drive the rapid growth and development of the organs. Like adult stem cells, fetal stem cells are generally tissue-specific, and generate the mature cell types within the particular tissue or organ in which they are found.

Go here to read the rest:
De Leon: Medical Tourism and the Future of Stem Cell Therapy (Part 2)

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