Stem Cell Treatments For Arthritis? Answers That Will Help Allay Your Concerns
Stem cell research has come a long way. However, there are still some misunderstandings about how treatments and therapies using stem cellls can work and how they are used. A lack of information provided to the public combined with an abundance of negative information surrounding fetal stem cells makes it difficult for many patients to accept therapies using stem cells. In many cases, it is not fetal stem cells that are used for these treatments, and therein lies the confusion and concern. If you have recently been recommended certain therapies (e.g., stem cell treatments for arthritis), then you will want to know more about these treatments and the stem cells involved. Here are some answers that should help inform you while allaying your fears or concerns.
Where These Other Stem Cells Come From
While it is true that some stem cells in research come from embryonic tissue, the stem cells used to treat adult disorders of the body are often extracted from adults. Adult stem cells are found in bone marrow or body fat, which means that stem cell therapy may even be produced using your body's own fat or marrow, thereby eliminating the possibility of cell and treatment rejection. If you are also willing to accept stem cell treatments when the cells are taken from amniotic fluid or umbilical cord blood, then the therapy might yield better results because these newer cells are more easily adaptable and manipulated to become what you need (e.g., new bone cells for the treatment of osteoarthritis, new kidney cells to treat kidney disease, etc.).
How Other Sources for Stem Cells Are Used and How the Cells Are Collected
The amniotic fluid and cord blood are often collected from birthing mothers who wish to bank it or donate it to further stem cell research or provide treatments for others. It is never "harvested" from a pregnant mother while her child is still growing in utero, so you do not have to feel awkward or guilty about accepting the treatments created from cord blood or amnio fluid. Still, you do have the option of using your own stem cells to create treatments, or you can borrow stem cells from a family member whose cells may be compatible with your own. Additionally, if you are an identical twin or triplet, you do have a very fortunate position of borrowing cells from your sibling(s) to create the treatments you need (if your sibling or siblings are willing to participate and donate some of their cells).
Talk to your doctor for more info.