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Stem Cell Therapy Definition
Stem Cell Therapy – implantation of stem cell to become specialized cells for tissue and organ repair or replacement. Though most stem cell therapy applications remain experimental, bone marrow transplantation (also called blood stem cell transplantation) has become a standard of treatment for many cancers affecting the blood and the lymphatic system (leukemias and lymphomas) as well as certain other cancers.
Researchers have also been successful in cultivating stem cells into skin for skin grafting, to treat severe burns, and into pancreatic islet cells that produce insulin, to treat severe type 1 diabetes. Though these applications of stem cell therapy remain experimental, they raise the potential for stem cell therapy to become viable in treating numerous health conditions.
Two significant concerns with stem cell therapy are the potential for cancer to develop and the rejection of the cultivated cells or tissue. A prime value of the stem cell is its unlimited ability to divide. However, a function called apoptosis limits most division of the cells in the body. It appears that cells can divide only a certain number of times, then begin to shut down. The exceptions are stem cells and cancer cells, and researchers are not certain what will keep stem cells from becoming cancer cells. Apoptosis remains a focus of much research. And as is the case with organs donated for transplantation, the body can reject stem cell transplantations. When this occurs the body’s immune system attacks the transplanted stem cells, killing them.
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