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    Stem cell revolution is not what you think

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    When

    Michelle Durbano

    At the turn of the 21st century Stem cells – The Master Builder of the Body – has seized our collective imagination. We have begun to dream of their wonderful healing powers. “The eraRegenerative medicineWas like dawn. Soon, stem cells will be used to repair and replace damaged hearts, joints, spinal cords, kidneys, livers, ducts, eyes, and more. You name it, stem cells fix it.

    More than 20 years have passed and we are still waiting. Despite the great expectations of stem cell research and the efforts of scientists around the world, the dream of regenerative medicine is exactly that, and it is a dream. If this sounds surprising, it’s probably because you’ve heard of stem cell clinics that offer direct treatment to consumers for all kinds of conditions: AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, Arthritis, and more COVID 19.But these are unproven treatments.. Rigorous clinical trials have generally not established their effectiveness and there are still safety concerns.

    Still, the business of people selling unproven stem cell therapies is booming, with global sales estimated at $ 2.4 billion annually.With their hands, stem cells become snake oil, and stem cell research Pseudoscience..

    So far, only one proven stem cell therapy is available. Bone marrow transplant and its variants. All of these involve the use of hematopoietic stem cells to restore hematopoietic capacity. This method, pioneered by researchers like Don Thomas (who won the Nobel Prize for his efforts) in the 1950s, has been routinely used since the 1980s to treat leukemia-like conditions. .. With over 1.5 million blood stem cell transplants worldwide, most recipients believe that there are significant benefits to lifespan and quality of life.

    Bone marrow transplantation is certainly a form of regenerative medicine. However, it was developed long before stem cell fever settled. The dream of regenerative medicine depends on stem cells working on other wonders. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of scientific articles have explored this possibility, but with little success.

    The main exception is the approved use of mesenchymal stromal cells (some scientists consider them stem cells) to treat immune disorders such as Crohn’s disease and graft-versus-host disease. This is a fertile field of study, but not regenerative medicine. The transplanted mesenchymal cells are not expected to heal damaged tissues or organs, they simply release useful chemicals.

    Still, there is no reason to despair. The fact that regenerative medicine has not yet fulfilled its promise does not mean that it will never come true. As the history of medicine shows, good things take time and effort. Bone marrow transplant is a good example..

    Without a doubt, stem cell research is thriving. It taught us a lot about how the body works and how to treat illness.

    Especially exciting is “Organoid“These are cultured from stem cells and usually combine several different cell types to spontaneously form miniature organs such as the mini-brain and heart. Organoids are more internal than normal two-dimensional cell cultures. You can get a much better idea of ​​what is happening in.

    So if you need a stem cell revolution, you don’t have to look anymore. Sure, that’s not what we all dreamed of – and the stem cell charlatan tried to hijack. But in some respects it is infinitely good. It’s real.

    This is a lab-based revolution, but its clinical significance is enormous. Stem cells are totally accelerating the development of new drugs, making it easier to decide which drugs to bring into clinical trials and what side effects are likely to occur.

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    Stem cell revolution is not what you think

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