In 1995, actor Christopher Reeve was thrown from the back of a horse straight onto his head. The tragic accident left him paralyzed from the neck down.
Reeve and his wife became activists for the promising potentials of stem cell research for injuries like his. With the rise in popularity of stem cell treatments for common pain and conditions, discover the approved stem cell therapies in the U.S.
What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are cells that we all have in our bodies. But they’re different from others because they’re not necessarily just a liver cell or a kidney cell.
They have the ability to develop into different kinds of cells. That means you can potentially use stem cells to repair different parts of the body, like knee cartilage or even organs.
They can also divide and multiply even after being inactive. This makes them extremely valuable! Stem cell research, though, is also extremely expensive.
Stem cell research is also controversial. Some consider it to be unethical. Embryonic stem cells are a popular and promising form of stem cell therapy, but it requires harvesting the cells from embryos. Doing this destroys the embryo.
If you believe life starts at conception, then you believe that embryo is alive. Thus the stem cell extraction process is cruel, unethical, and even killing human life. This ethical issue has held back embryonic stem cell testing for years in the U.S.
President Obama allowed some leeway during his presidency, but funding and support were (and are) still huge problems. Christopher Reeve and his wife even created a foundation to bring awareness to and raise support for all kinds of stem cell testing.
What Is Stem Cell Therapy?
Embryonic stem cell research is a hot-button topic. In fact, it’s one of the topics that so divisively split conservatives and liberals in the United States.
Now, though, there are other forms of stem cell testing that don’t involve embryos. That means they’re not controversial or considered unethical by anyone—hallelujah!
Stem cell research helps us understand what cells are, what they do, cell division, and cell development. That includes the good and the bad, which are equally valuable. For example, “good” being repairing torn cartilage; “bad” being cancer.
Stem cell therapy is the use of these stem cells to address health problems. This is called regenerative medicine: using stem cells to potentially regenerate damaged or sick body parts. You can see why Christopher Reeve was so interested in it!
Regenerative medicine, if fully developed and approved by the FDA, could be the alternative to organ donation. Donated organs are few and far between but in incredibly high demand.
Don’t believe us? The kidney transplant waitlist is so long that receivers wait an average of three to five years for a donation!
Think about it: for someone to receive a kidney, someone else has to choose to donate it. For someone to get a heart, someone else has to die.
It’s not an efficient, ideal, or easy system. Plus, there’s no guarantee that the receiver’s body will accept the donated organ. It can reject it, and you’re back to square one.
Imagine if the sick or injured person could instead utilize their own (or someone else’s) stem cells to repair their damaged or diseased organ. No need for organ donors, intensive and dangerous organ surgeries, anti-rejection medication, or the harrowing unknown of the waitlist.
Which Stem Cell Therapies Are Approved In the U.S.?
Cord blood stem cell therapy is the only stem cell therapy currently FDA-approved in the United States. Others are in the works, fighting controversy, or seeking funding.
Cord blood stem cell therapy, however, is extremely versatile. It can treat a wide range of health conditions, including cancers!
Cord Blood Stem Cell Therapy
Have you ever heard of moms saving and donating the blood from their newborn baby’s umbilical cord? It’s for this purpose!
The stem cells in cord blood are absolutely invaluable. They can be used to help the baby itself or even the baby’s family members. Here are some health conditions that cord blood stem cells are FDA-approved to treat:
- Childhood cancers involving tumors
- Leukemias, including pre-leukemia
- Bone marrow cancers
- Erythrocyte abnormalities
- Platelet abnormalities
- Immune system disorders
- Myeloproliferative disorders
- Phagocyte disorders
- Organ disorders
- Metabolic disorders
- Leukodystrophy disorders
- Lysosomal storage diseases
- Other inherited disorders like osteopetrosis
For people (including the donating baby itself) with one of these disorders, cord stem cells are the effective, safe, and, sometimes, only answer. Regenerative medicine is truly a miracle for babies and people with these conditions.
If you’re interested in regenerative medicine, check out this integrated medical center. The point of integrated medicine is to help your body heal itself using stem cells if needed.
There Are Approved Stem Cell Therapies in the U.S.
You may hear “stem cell research” or “stem cell therapy” and immediately feel unsure. There is mixed rhetoric and mixed understanding about it.
You don’t have to feel unsure, uninformed, or confused: there are approved stem cell therapies in the U.S. and you can know all about them. As of right now, they all involve cord blood stem cells.
You’d actually be surprised how common and accepted they are. Christopher Reeve’s post-accident life’s work certainly worked in terms of moving stem cell research forward!
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