Stem cell therapy is a procedure that’s saved many a life over the past few years as well as led to a large depression because of the standstill nature of its research. So is the stem cell therapy really worth it?
The stem cell therapy is a process of using a live human stem cell for the purpose of either regeneration or improvisation of the person’s immunity. This technique is one which has been widely studied over the past decade, and continues to be a field with a lot left to learn.
The most common form of stem cell therapy is that of the bone marrow’s stem cell therapy.
The stem cells from the bone marrow have been used to treat cancer patients with conditions such as leukaemia and lymphoma. This reintroduces functional stem cells to replace the cells lost in the host’s body during the chemotherapy treatment.
Some bone, skin and corneal (eye) injuries and diseases can be treated by grafting or implanting tissues, and the healing process relies on stem cells within this implanted tissue.
These procedures are widely accepted as safe and effective by the medical community.
Now coming to the reason why the research of stem cell is currently at a stand still.
● Well firstly it is important to know that the stem cell works in different ways for different people and for different procedures. Hence it is extremely important for the stem cell to be a perfect match. So as we see that the procedures that have already been perfected are pretty much useless in the further development of the research on a whole. Thus new research needs to take place for every different procedure.
This obviously takes a lot of time and resources.
● Stem-cell therapy has become controversial following developments such as the ability of scientists to isolate and embryonic stem cells. Which basically is a step towards human cloning and this has come under immense criticism. Additionally, efforts to market treatments based on transplant of stored umbilical cord blood have been controversial.
● Various unproven procedures conducted by some clinics have on various instances given the stem cell therapy a bad name in the market and hence has less number of takers.
● Stem cell therapy is highly experimental and the probability of finding people willing to be experimented on is very unlikely. In the off chance that someone is found it is important that all goes well.
With every procedure it is important for the patient to know the success rate of the same.
When it comes to stem cell treatment, at present only about three successfully tested and carried out procedures exist.
They are -:
● The stem cell implantation through bone marrow extraction for cancer treatments.
● Skin grafts that are applied for major burns. This also is however under continuous research and is used only in the case of life threatening burns on the patient. This is limited to very few clinical centres around the world.
● A new stem-cell-based treatment to repair damage to the cornea (the surface of the eye) after an injury like a chemical burn, called Holoclar, has recently received conditional approval in Europe. As we can see in the wide field of stem cell therapy only a minute part of the research has been successful and has given rise to the above procedures.
Stem cell obviously has a long way to go before we achieve perfection but it is also important to understand that the stem cell procedures that have been clinically accepted are one of the best possible procedures possible in the given condition of the patient..
There is about a 60% to 80% overall success rate in the use of stem cell therapy in both
India and around the world. However, success rates vary depending on the disease being treated, the institute conducting the procedures, and the condition of the patient.
The costs incurred for the stem cell therapy vary depending on where the treatment is carried out. The price can be as high as $30000 for a treatment in The USA to one at $120000 for the same treatment in India.
So is the stem cell procedure worth the risk? Well if the one you’re talking about has clinically received a grant then yes, definitely. But are you worth experimenting upon? That is a question best left to the wise ones that you trust.
-Abhijit Krishna Menon