Stem cells are undifferentiated cells obtained from various sources within the human body. These cells have the unique ability to divide indefinitely and produce more specialized types of cells to form tissues and from tissues, organs. In the process, new and healthy body components can be created that can potentially repair, replenish, regenerate or replace unhealthy cells in the body and treat a number of diseases that people are either born to or are affected by as a result of social and lifestyle adjustments in today’s age.
How Stem Cell Therapy Works
Stem Cell Therapy works by introducing a concentration of stem cells directly into the damaged tissue but the exact mechanism of repair has eluded scientists so far. It is largely assumed that certain substances are released by the healthy stem cells that then activate the diseased cells.
India is a developing economy and still adapting to lifestyle changes, while at the same time grappling with significant illiteracy and ignorance. As one can imagine, the potential for stem cell therapy in India, as anywhere in the world, is virtually limitless.
Although bone marrow is the most widely used source for treatments based on stem cell therapy in India, cord blood cells are also increasingly being used because of their greater potential to form different kinds of cells.
Sources of Stem Cells
Other ways in which stem cells can be obtained include Tissue-Specific stem cells, stem cells obtained from the growing foetus or embryo inside a human mother, cord blood stem cells and Induced Pluripotent stem cells. While some of these processes to obtain stem cells are either controversial or painful, others have not yet been harnessed on a scientifically reliable, safe and effective manner.
Thousands of children suffering from leukemia have been saved by stem cell therapy in India and stem cells can be seen in treating disease or damage to the bone, skin and surface of the eye using tissue grafts. Research continues into varied applications to many other medical conditions prevalent around the world.
Stem Cell Therapy in India – The Official Government View
One could argue that experimental treatments are not the same as clinical trials, and marketing could be misleading. However, consider the fact that the Department of Biotechnology of the Indian Government invested $60 million in researching this field between 2005 and 2010. Bangalore’s National Center for Biological Sciences and Hyderabad’s Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology had set up facilities for clinical trials at an investment of Rs 2 Crore in 2011.
No one today doubts the efficacy of stem cell therapy in India, although lack of awareness about proven treatments is a hindrance to this life saving medical breakthrough.