This relatively new and still insufficiently explored medical field is catching the attention of masses worldwide causing opposite reactions. Some see it as the breakthrough medical treatment with endless therapeutic potential, while others oppose strongly accenting its ethical controversy and all the risks attached to it. The third problem is myriad of misconceptions and false information circling around and people struggling with severe diseases picking these wrong data and hoping for miracles. As with all “magic pills” in medicine, nothing is so simple and the truth is usually somewhere in between opposed extremes. Hence, here are some major pros and cons of stem cells therapy.
Pros of stem cells therapy
Probably the biggest advantage of stem cell therapy is the great regenerative potential of stem cells. Embryonic stem cells, derived from the early stages of embryo development, have an omnipotent capacity of differentiating into all sorts of cells and tissues, but these cells can only be sampled by damaging blastocyst. The other type of stem cells, adult or tissue-specific cells, remain present throughout a lifetime, but their regenerative potential is limited to specific cells of a given tissue. Either way, theoretically, each of these cells has the potential to restore tissue and organs damaged by illness or trauma.
This creates terrain for numerous effective medical treatments which could reverse some severe conditions, restore damaged organ systems or even completely eliminate some genetic disorders. This medical intervention could help patients with cystic fibrosis, diabetes, blood disorders, leukemias, cartilage degeneration, skin damages, neurological diseases. Also, stem cells therapy carries the certain potential of restoring or at least slowing down the aging process.
Cons of stem cells therapy
When talking about the disadvantages of stem cell therapy, it’s important to mention that there are way too many exaggerations. In spite of numerous clinical trials and lab researches ongoing worldwide, only limited number of approved treatments are actually being applied. Other therapeutic potentials of stem cells are still being investigated. This means that stem cells theoretically carry endless potential, but in reality, we’re using only a small share of it. Another downside is a pretty unfamiliar medical field and consequentially unknown side effects of many of these interventions.
Some side effects are detected and explored, but since it’s still a new field, long-term consequences are yet to be explored. Another great downside refers to all ethical dilemmas attached to this medical procedure. The genetic disorder could easily be widely interpreted, thus many people are a sceptic and scared of abusing stem cell therapy under loose criteria to adjust people’s genome for non-medical reasons.
As with any other medical intervention, there are some inevitable risks. In order to harvest stem cells as well as in order to implement them back into the body, invasive medical intervention is required. This carries the risk of further tissue damaging, infection, bleeding and allergic reactions. Stem cells changed via lab maneuvering could trigger immune reaction and rejection, as well as lose their growing control and turn to malignant tissue.