There are stem cell treatment center such as all over the country, but many people still have a lot of questions about the work these centers do. Here, we’ll answer your most commonly asked questions about stem cell research and stem cell treatments.

What are stem cells? What’s the big deal about them?

In simplest terms, stem cells are the building blocks of the body. They are cells in their infancy that can be manipulated to become more than 200 different types of cells in the body. They can become muscle cells, blood cells, and/or brain cells. They can divide and replicate themselves very efficiently. That makes them extremely versatile and invaluable to medical treatments, as they can be implanted into the body of someone who, for example, has had their tissues damaged by chemotherapy.

Why is umbilical cord blood so valuable?

Umbilical cord blood is very rich in blood stem cells. It can be used as an alternative to bone marrow transplantation. It can be collected through a non-invasive procedure after birth, tested, and frozen in tissue banks ready for future use if necessary. It is valuable because it has less stringent host-donor match requirements, which means more patients can potentially benefit from each sample. Most often, umbilical cord stem cells are used to treat children, as there is not usually enough cells from a single umbilical sample to treat an adult.

Are stem cells currently being used in treatments?

Yes! There are lots of stem cell treatment centers across the United States and elsewhere. Currently, stem cells are being used to treat illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, leukemia, diabetes, ALS, Parkinson’s, hair loss, arthritis, and more.

How does stem cell treatment work?

Patients are given healthy stem cells that have been “grown” from their own bone marrow or blood or, in some cases, from another person. The donor can be either a relative or a complete stranger – it matters only that their immune system is compatible with the recipient.

Are there risks/complications associated with stem cell transplants?

As with virtually any medical procedure, there are risks involved. Researchers are still trying to track what stem cells actually do in the body, where they go, and how long the positive effects last. Additionally, stem cell research is costly and takes many years to track the results. Other risks include infection, tissue rejection, and risks associated with the medical procedure itself.

Stem cell research is an exciting frontier in medicine. The possibilities are very exciting and researchers continue to work on new ways to use stem cells to treat things such as autoimmune disorders, certain cancers, and to improve the quality of life of those living with these life-changing diagnoses.