What is Stem Cell?

What is Stem Cell?

All organs and tissues in the human body are made up of cells. Some cells are capable of renewing themselves and transforming into different cell types. These cells, called stem cells, can divide and reproduce, unlike muscle and nerve cells that cannot reproduce. The stem cell, which enables the formation of hundreds of thousands or even millions of cells from a single cell, can also reproduce by dividing in order to renew itself. Although stem cells cannot provide oxygen transport, hormonal and neural transmission, they play a role in the formation of cells that must fulfill these vital functions. The stem cell, which has the ability to renew itself for a lifetime, transforms into other cells. It differentiates in line with the needs of the body and ensures the development, maturation and proliferation of other cells. However, with aging the amount of blood cells in the body decreases compared to other cells. While 1 out of 10 thousand cells in newborn babies is a stem cell, in a 65-year-old person, only 1 out of 1 million cells is a stem cell. Damaged tissues and organs become irreparable due to the decrease in the amount of stem cells with aging. Therefore, stem cell therapy is very important in the treatment of many diseases that can result in death, some types of cancer and congenital blood pathologies.

What is Stem Cell?

In the human body, there are cell types with many different functions in order for the person to continue his or her life in a healthy way. Stem cells are the cells that form the structure of all tissues and organs in the body. Stem cells, which can transform into all types of cells in the organism and are defined as mother cells, are located in every part of the body where they are needed. Thus, it plays a role in the regeneration of all tissues and organs that are sick or damaged. By transforming into the cell type needed; It repairs organ and tissue damage or loss caused by disease, injury and other causes. Thanks to their divisible structure, they can also transform into muscle or blood cells while playing a role in the formation of stem cells of the same type. Stem cells, which have many different types, play an important role in the first steps of development while a person is still in the mother's womb, and provide the formation of organs and tissues. Unlike these cells, which are defined as embryonic stem cells, there are somatic stem cells in the human body. In addition to somatic stem cells, known as tissue-specific or adult stem cells, there are also induced pluripotent stem cells, defined as iPS cells. With the development of technology and medical science, many different types of diseases can be treated by transplanting stem cells, which can be taken from adipose tissue or bone marrow of another person. Stem cells, which can be given directly intravenously to the sick person or transplanted directly to the damaged tissue, can multiply upon entering the body and transform into the cells needed by the organism and repair the diseased tissue or organ.

What is Stem Cell Therapy?

  • Self-renewing stem cells, which form the origin of all structures in the human body, are used in the treatment of many diseases. It is a treatment method used to regenerate the damaged cells, tissues and organs of the patient by transplanting stem cells from the person himself, from a compatible or semi-compatible donor. Previously, stem cell therapy could only be applied with stem cells taken from the bone marrow, but nowadays it can also be taken from the peripheral blood and cord blood. In addition, recently, stem cells can be obtained from eggs (embryonic stem cells) and adipose tissue.
  • Correcting abnormalities caused by innate metabolism or enzymatic systems.
  • Healing diseased or damaged bone marrow.
  • Elimination of suppression in the immune system.
  • Healing of damaged tissues and organs.

As a result of scientific research, important developments have been made in stem cell therapy for the treatment of progressive diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, as well as many neurological diseases such as stroke due to spinal cord injuries and cerebral vascular occlusion. When the stem cell is given into the brain tissue, although it is not effective in healing the damaged areas in the brain in some recent injuries and diseases, it has been proven that it provides healing in a different way by activating the cells on the healthy brain tissue. Thanks to many such newly discovered properties of stem cells, stem cell therapy can be applied to cure many diseases in the near future. Stem cell therapy studies, in which research continues to cure many different diseases, continue at full speed. Therefore, the content of the answers to the questions of what is stem cell therapy and in which diseases stem cell therapy is effective is increasing day by day.

How Is Stem Cell Therapy Done?

Today, stem cells are commonly taken from peripheral blood, bone marrow and cord blood. Autologous transplantation is the transfer of the stem cell taken from the person to the damaged area in himself; Transplanting stem cells from other donors to the patient is called allogeneic transplant. In some cases, there is a treatment method, which is defined as haploidentic transplantation, which is applied with stem cells taken from a semi-matched donor when the stem cell cannot be obtained from the person himself or a suitable donor cannot be found. After the appropriate stem cell is found, it is injected into the patient's vascular access or directly on the damaged area. The success rate of the treatment varies according to the type of the disease, the period and the complications experienced. In addition, in some cases, stem cell adhesion may not occur. In this case, the stem cell transplant needs to be repeated.

In Which Diseases Is Stem Cell Therapy Applied?

There are new developments in the field of bone marrow treatment every day. In the light of these developments, stem cell therapy is applied in the treatment of many diseases. Stem cell application, which is used more and more everyday in the fields of orthopedics, neurology, ophthalmology and traumatology, is becoming a method used in the treatment of many patients of appropriate age and physical characteristics. Stem cell therapy is often used to treat the following diseases:

  • Bone marrow cancers
  • Lymphoma
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Anemia
  • Mediterranean anemia
  • Organ cancers
  • Plasma cell diseases
  • Bone marrow failure
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Hereditary and congenital blood diseases
  • Diseases due to immune deficiency
  • Hereditary metabolic diseases


How to Donate Stem Cells?

Any healthy person between the ages of 18 and 50 can become a stem cell donor. Stem cells collected from peripheral blood circulating in the body are the most commonly used donation method. In this method, which is similar to blood donation, the donor is given drugs twice a day for 4-5 days, and the stem cells are mixed with the circulating blood. Afterwards, the blood taken through the catheter inserted into the vein in the arm is connected to a special machine. The transmitter remains connected to the machine for approximately 2 to 4 hours. There is no risk for the donor during this procedure. The obtained stem cell can be given to the patient immediately, or it can be frozen and stored for later use. Another donation method is bone marrow collection. One unit of blood is collected from the donor in the week before the donation process. On the day of donation, the donor is put to sleep with general anesthesia. A small incision is made in the area where the pelvic bone is, and stem cells are collected by entering the pelvis with a special needle. The donor is usually discharged on the same day.

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