Somatic stem cells, which are commonly referred to as “adult stem cells,” offers an exciting avenue for medical treatment and discovery. These non-specialized cells are able to discriminate themselves into specific cell types that create a long-term replacement of existing cells. Here are the pros and cons of using these cells and the challenges, both good and bad, that are presented with this field of medical science.
The Pros of Adult Stem Cells
1. Only a few adult stem cells can create trillions of specialized cells.
Therapies can be developed that can cure a number of potential diseases and genetic conditions thanks to the characteristics of somatic stem cells. The implantation of stem cells could potentially stop Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or even MS or ALS.
2. It may reduce the risks of rejection.
Many treatments that use adult stem cells will create specialized cells from a person’s own genetic code. This reduces the risk of rejection that other treatment options provide because it is the person’s own cells that are being used to create something new.
3. They could repair tissue damage.
Whether it is diabetes or heart disease, there is a lot of hope that new heart tissue cells or insulin producing cells can be created to treat common health conditions that the developed world is facing. This could potentially reduce mortality and morbidity rates as these treatments progress.
The Cons of Adult Stem Cells
1. There aren’t that many which are available.
Most adults have very few somatic stem cells that can be harvested. This means that treatment options for growth are very limited and why embryonic stem cells are often looked at as a method of supplementing this treatment method.
2. One treatment is all that may be available.
Adult stem cells don’t replicate after they’ve been harvested for a treatment either. This means patients who would need a stem cell therapy would have a one-shot treatment option. If a person was treated for diabetes and then needed heart tissue repair, they’d be out of luck.
3. The challenges to develop adult stem cells are numerous.
Although there is a lot of potential for therapies to be developed with adult stem cells, those are future therapies. This technology is still in the development phase and requires much funding to continue advancing.
Adult stem cells could be the treatment option of the future. By taking a look at pros and cons like these, we can proceed with medical advancements carefully and ethically so that the quality and length of life are extended.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.