But in this blog post we want to take a step back and just discuss stem cells and regenerative medicine itself. We want to look at what cell therapy is. What type of stem cell applications are used currently in regenerative medicine and what stem cell research is currently being undertaken.
As much as we love sharing the fascinating world of stem cells and the potential for them to advance medicine, understanding what stem cells are and what regenerative medicine is is crucial to aiding further research.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are the foundations of the human body, the building blocks from which all cells are generated. Under the right conditions in a laboratory, stem cells can divide and form new cells. These new cells are known as daughter cells. It’s these new daughter cells that go on to become new cells.
What is so incredibly special about stem cells is that no other cell in our body is capable of performing the role that stem cells play. They are the only cells able to naturally regenerate and form new cells.
So why such an interest in stem cells?
- Stem cells have the potential to cure incurable illnesses. They can be used to replace diseased cells in cancer patients for example. Or to treat untreatable injuries (known as regenerative medicine) such as spinal cord injuries, or type 1 diabetes.
- By studying stem cells and watching them grow into the organs and tissue that they’re destined to become, we can better understand how certain conditions and diseases develop in the body. As a result, we can research how to prevent these incidents from occurring.
- Before testing new drugs and medicines on humans, researchers can carry out tests on stem cells to see how they would react, for safety and quality purposes.
What is regenerative medicine?
Regenerative medicine draws heavily upon stem cell research. Regenerative medicine is used to repair or to replace human cells or tissue that have become damaged or diseased, in order to restore them to normal working order.
Why are stem cells important?
Stem cells, regardless of where they come from, have three features:
- They are capable of dividing and recreating themselves over a long period of time
- All stem cells start life unspecialised
- All stem cells are capable of creating any specialised cell type
Earliest form of cell therapy
Stem cell research began in the 1980s when scientists identified embryonic stem cells in mice. From there, cell therapy has been used to clone Dolly the Sheep, as well as uncover the four different types of stem cells – embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells, cord blood stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells.
Since then, stem cells have been transplanted in bone marrow transplants, to replace damaged cells following chemotherapy, as well as to treat spinal injuries and even help with macular degeneration.
What does the future for stem cells hold?
With decades of research already carried out into stem cells, it is still safe to say that we have only scratched the surface of the potential for these cells.
Innovation is at the heart of Celixir. Our unique technology platform drives in-house discovery and manufacturing. We have more than 20 tissue-specific regenerative medicines in our pipeline, which is unprecedented in the field of regenerative medicine.
At Celixir, our R&D activities are focused on bringing life-saving regenerative medicines to market. Presently we are researching stem cells and heart disease.
How can stem cells advance medicine?
Stem cells can potentially help advance modern medicine in multiple ways, including:
- Cell therapy. Cell therapy can help rejuvenate or replace damaged or diseased cells caused by all manner of illnesses and injuries.
- Discovering new drugs and testing them. Plus, with the ability to create induced pluripotent stem cells by genetically reprogramming adult stem cells back to an embryonic stem cell state, scientists are able to avoid the ethical issues involved with using embryonic stem cells in research. There could be a possible bank of renewable replacement cells.
- Enhance existing knowledge of the human body
There is still a long way to go. But with current research and ongoing funding, there will be light at the end of the tunnel.