Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Université de Montréal
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The infinite possibilities offered by stem cells and stem cell therapy

Stem cells have engendered a great deal of excitement in the medical community since they are the ancestors of every other cell in the human body. Depending on the environment in which it is found and the stimuli it is given, a stem cell can transform itself into a skin, muscle, nerve or blood cell.

It is understandable, then, that researchers and physicians have seen these cells as offering exceptional treatment possibilities. The scientific community dreams of being able to use stem cells as therapeutic agents to replace abnormal cells or regenerate dysfunctional cells, tissues or organs. This is what is known as cellular therapy.

Cellular therapy in the treatment of disease

Many diseases could, in theory, be prevented, alleviated or treated through cellular therapy. Such diseases are associated with the deterioration of cells (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s diseases, etc.), cell dysfunction (cancer, AIDS) and the destruction or death of cells (heart attack, cirrhosis, diabetes, severe burns).

The manipulation and injection of stem cells constitutes one therapeutic approach for reversing the progression of such diseases. Injecting healthy stem cells into a patient could regenerate normal cells in the affected organ, which could then regain its proper function.

Even if tremendous progress has been made during recent years in developing effective treatments, a number of problems remain to be solved before diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s can be eradicated.

However, in the case of certain cancers, and blood and immune system diseases, cellular therapy, which involves the injection of hematopoietic stem cells, provides an effective therapeutic approach—and one that is constantly improving.