The history of stem cells dates back to the mid-20th century when researchers were working with bone marrow, a type of adult stem cell, for transplants. By the mid-1990s, stem cell research had exploded, with researchers working hard to unlock the secret potential of each type of stem cell: adult, umbilical and embryonic. Today, stem cell research tends to be centered on adult stem cells.
Fat, or adipose tissue, is one of the most plentiful supplies of stem cells, and it is proving to also be one of the richest areas of stem cell advancements. Adipose stem cells are multipotent stem cells from which mesenchymal stem cells can be derived. MSCs have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic effects and secrete factors that stimulate tissue repair.
MSCs can also differentiate into a variety of cell types, including osteoblasts, chondrocytes, myocytes, adipocytes, and potentially other cell types, and researchers are even using them in the revolutionary field of 3D printing to form new tissues. Because adipose stem cells are both readily available and versatile, they are being used far more frequently than any other type of adult stem cell. There are currently more than 800 trials currently being performed on MSCs alone, including one clinical trial involving MSCs being injected into the ovaries of infertile women to stimulate ovulation, which is showing some success already.
Although adipose stem cells are a prime area of research, other stem cells are also making waves with scientists working in stem cell therapy research. Researchers have been studying the stem cells in lung tissue, or distal airway stem cells, which have so far shown great promise for stem cell treatment of lung disease. DASCs are being researched for their ability to repair damaged lung tissue, and the stem cells found in the meninges are being studied to determine if they can help repair spinal cord damage.
Other areas of research and potential stem cell uses include:
- Bone marrow to repair damaged heart tissue
- Stem cells in breast milk to treat Parkinson’s and diabetes
- Skin stem cells to repair severely damaged skin
While stem cells might not hold the key to the fountain of youth, they could very well unlock the secret to health through stem cell therapy for many of us. As researchers work to uncover their mysteries, they are providing us with revolutionary stem cell treatment options and, in some cases, cures to diseases that were once life-altering or even life-ending.
To learn more about stem cell therapy and whether it may be right for you, please contact us for a complimentary consultation.