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Stem Cells For Cancer Treatment: Interesting Facts To Know

Stem Cells For Cancer Treatment: Interesting Facts To Know

For the general public, stem cell therapy has always been a controversial topic: it’s a treatment many are familiar with because some reports claim it effectively repairs damaged tissues and cures life-threatening diseases, such as cancer. But, stem cell therapy is not widely available and is expensive.

Before we further talk about stem cells for cancer treatment, let’s first have an overview of what stem cells are. Basically, stem cells are special human cells that can develop into different types of cells, potentially repairing damaged tissues and “reversing” currently untreatable conditions, such as permanent paralysis and Alzheimer disease.

For now, let’s focus on the things to know about stem cells for cancer treatment.

There Are Different Types Of Stem Cells For Cancer Treatment Research

A recent study mentioned that there are three types of stem cells for cancer treatment, namely:

Pluripotent stem cells

These are referred to as “master” cells because they can develop into any kind of cell or tissue the body needs.

One of the types of pluripotent stem cells is the controversial embryonic stem cells, which we get from unused embryos donated by couples who had in vitro fertilization.

However, due to ethical concerns around destroying the embryo to harvest embryonic stem cells, scientists do not use them for cancer treatment research. They mostly use induced pluripotent cells, which come from ordinary body cells (such as skin cells) and are converted into pluripotent cells.

Adult Stem Cells

Adult stem cells come from cells that divide to replenish dying or damaged cells. They may be called adult stem cells, but even kids have them. Unlike pluripotent stem cells, adult stem cells can only develop into the type of cell they originated from. For instance, stem cells from liver cells can only develop into liver cells.

There are several types of adult stem cells for cancer treatment, one of which is hematopoietic stem cells.

Hematopoietic stem cells from the bone marrow can develop into all the mature blood cells in the body. Infusing hematopoietic stem cells derived from cord blood is an approved treatment for leukemia, multiple myeloma, and other blood disorders.

Cancer Stem Cells

Another type of stem cells used for cancer treatment research is cancer stem cells, which come from within the tumor. Research says targeting CSCs may hold potential in treating solid tumors.

Stem Cells for Cancer Treatment: How Do They Help?

How stem cells help treat cancer varies, but generally, they:

  • They help the patient continue using high-dose chemotherapy. You see, high doses of chemotherapy not only destroy cancer cells, but they might also kill normal cells, including the patient’s original stem cells. A stem cell transplant (also called bone marrow transplant) replaces the destroyed stem cells and allows the doctors to still use high-dose chemo to kill cancer cells. Furthermore, the transplanted stem cells grow into normal blood cells that also produce cancer-free blood cells.
  • They help kill cancer cells. Stem cells from a cancer-free donor might be able to find and kill cancer cells better than the patient who has cancer.

Researchers are also using stem cells now to produce anti-cancer vaccines.

Stem Cells Have Other Potential, But It Can Be Expensive

Besides treating cancer, scientists are also looking into the possibility of using stem cells for other chronic diseases. Since stem cells can develop into various cells, they believe they can use them to replace damaged tissues. So, if a patient has heart disease, we might be able to use stem cells to either repair the damaged part or generate an entire organ.

But stem cell therapy can be quite expensive. Online reports indicate that you might need to spend hundreds of thousands per session.

Key Takeaways

Researchers are looking into the potentials of stem cells for cancer treatment. Generally, stem cells rescue the patient’s destroyed stem cells and even help destroy cancer cells.

Learn more about Cancer here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Recent Progress of Stem Cell Therapy in Cancer Treatment: Molecular Mechanisms and Potential Applications
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7140431/
Accessed July 14, 2021

STEM CELL THERAPY
https://doh.gov.ph/node/1502
Accessed July 14, 2021

PLURIPOTENT STEM CELLS 101
http://stemcell.childrenshospital.org/about-stem-cells/pluripotent-stem-cells-101/
Accessed July 14, 2021

Adult stem cell
https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/adult_stem_cell.htm
Accessed July 14, 2021

How Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Transplants Are Used to Treat Cancer
https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/stem-cell-transplant/why-stem-cell-transplants-are-used.html
Accessed July 14, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated 2 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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