Why all the excitement about stem cells?

Pros of Stem Cell Research

There has been a lot of talk and excitement around the pros of stem cell research.  The main reason for the excitement is the potential for stem cells to help many diseases and conditions that have previously had difficult, poor or no treatment.  Some of this potential is being seen in the veterinary world and overseas. However, here in the United States, stem cells have seen very limited uses so far.

Bone marrow transplants, which depend on stem cells for their effectiveness, have become the mainstay of treating some leukemias and other blood disorders.  Other clinical applications in the United States have been slow in coming.  The interest is high because of the tremendous potential of stem cells.  Since they can both reproduce and become any cell, it is hoped that we may be able to use them to do things we cannot do with traditional medical procedures.

Small private studies are looking at a  number of areas to test the safety and efficacy of stem cell deployment.  Orthopedics is one of the fields with early promise at repairing damaged joints without surgery or helping soft tissue injuries like torn muscles or ligaments. Urologic studies are also looking at problems like interstitial cystitis or refractory erectile dysfunction as potential areas for deployment.

Neurology is an area of great excitement with hopes of seeing improvement of neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and even spinal cord injuries with stem cell therapies and treatments.  Rheumatologic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Crohn’s disease are also areas being studied.  Cardiology also hopes to see effective improvement of heart failure using stem cells.  It is hoped (and by some deeply believed) that stem cells hold the answer for these and many other related conditions.