How Stem Cells Could Change the Future of Healthcare

How Stem Cells Could Change the Future of Healthcare

A time traveler from the 1800s would be astounded by medicine today. Diseases that were incurable back then are no longer a threat; some things believed to be best practices then are now understood to be terribly dangerous.

Medicine has come a long way, but people shouldn’t look down too much on the medical experts of years gone by. After all, our own era will no doubt look positively backwards someday. In the future, we may well cure cancer and conquer AIDS. We may be able to grow large amounts of stem cells in labs and resolve disabilities.

We don’t yet know what is possible or what these advances will look like, but we do have a sense of where they may come from. And the most promising area in medical research right now is stem cell research. Read on for more details.

What is a stem cell?

First things first: what are we talking about here? Well, you probably already know that our entire bodies are made up of cells. Cells are the basic building blocks of life, and all living things have them (besides viruses, which are in some ways “alive” and in other ways not). Human beings, trees, jellyfish, and amoebas are all made up of one or more cells

Cells reproduce by dividing, which is how we grow; they eventually die, which is a big part of why we don’t live forever. But while most cells can only create more cells of the same exact type, stem cells are an exception. A stem cell can create another stem cell, but it can also branch off and create other things: a blood cell, for instance, or a nerve cell.

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Embryos contain stem cells, which makes sense (where else would all of our cells come from?), but so do adults. Everyone has stem cells in their bone marrow, for instance, so that they can keep creating new blood cells. There are differences between the types of stem cells, but we’re still learning more about how they all work.

What we do know, explain the experts at NAD Stem Cell, is that their applications in medicine seem nearly endless. If a stem cell can become anything, might that mean that we can replace unhealthy cells with healthy ones? Could we add stem cells to match blood cell deficiencies and fight diseases?

Might we be able to grow specific types of cells, or even create large amounts of tissues for grafts and replacements of unhealthy tissues? Could we create tissues that we can use to safely test new treatments on, sparing patients dangerous trials and accelerating the research that could one day cure cancer or AIDS?

The answer is that some of this is possible, some of this might be possible, and some of this is already happening.

The future of stem cells

Today, stem cell therapy involves injecting patients with stem cells. It is used to treat a variety of diseases, but this is not the only way we’ll ever use stem cells. We’re likely to discover a whole lot more.

To do that, we need to keep researching. That’s why it is so important to keep supporting stem cell research. Those who oppose stem cell research often root their positions in misunderstandings and outright fictions. Researchers carefully consider the ethics of stem cell research, and modern techniques are allowing scientists to do things like, for instance, making adult stem cells act more like embryonic ones.

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The reality is that stem cells already save lives, and that further research could bring us to a brighter medical future — one that, perhaps, would be as dazzling to us as our own current health care procedures would be to a doctor from 200 years ago.

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