There is truth behind the saying “the body heals itself”. If you get a cut a scab will grow over it and repair it, if you break your arm the bones will mend and re-join together and if you catch a cold your body will fight it and kill it off. These theories can work with more serious diseases too with the help of science. Today’s doctors can now heal the good cells in the body that are damaged during chemotherapy and radiotherapy by replacing them with your own naïve cells that have be stimulated into the right type of cell. These naïve cells are called stem cells.
Stem cells are biological cells that can be stimulated to transform into other body cells such as red or white blood cells, liver cells, muscle cells, skin cells, tissue cells, nerve cells. They are able to do this because they are the most underdeveloped cells found in the body and have not yet transform into fully developed specialised cells. The best kinds of stem cells are found in the umbilical cord blood stem cells. They can also be found in bone marrow, fat and blood but they are often extremely hard to find or painful to extract in comparison to umbilical cord blood.
What is the future of using stem cells to self-heal?
Healing the Deaf. In scientific trials deaf gerbils have been able to hear again thanks to stem cells. This could eventually help cure thousands of the hard of hearing and deaf. It works by replacing the damaged cells in the ear with stem cells by injecting them into the cochlea. Although it wouldn’t cure all deaf people it would help cure the deaf who suffer from auditory neuropathy which is when certain nerves inside the ear are damaged.
Curing the Paralysed. Stem cells have been used to help paralysed patients feel again. Patients with broken spines who are unable to feel from the chest down have been injected with stem cells to help their body heal itself. Scientists have injected the stem cells directly into the damaged area of the spine. Two out of the three patients started to feel from the nipple to belly button when they previously couldn’t after just 6 months of treatment.
Creating Life. Mice egg and sperm cells have been created from stem cells. This could lead to help infertile women to have children and perhaps one day same sex couples could conceive babies using both parents’ DNA. Scientists used umbilical cord blood cells and an induced pluripotent adult stem cell. With the help of IVF these eggs result in healthy, fertile mice pups.
The Verdict: Our body heals itself natural, so what’s the harm in giving nature a hand? Whether you are interested in stem cell collection for your baby in case they one day suffer from deafness, infertility or become paralyzed be safe in the knowledge that scientists are working towards curing these problems and many, many more. Science is a wonderful thing, as is self-healing and nature. Hand in hand they can make these things a thing of the past. If you want to insure your children’s health and wellbeing why not look into stem cell storage? Who knows what uses we will have for it in the future?