Stem cells are essentially the raw materials of the body. In fact, we can go so far as to call them the building blocks of life itself.
In the early 1980s, scientists discovered ways to manipulate stem cells. After decades of research and experimentation, we can actually now use stem cells to make bone cells, blood cells, heart muscle cells, and even brain cells.
But how are stem cells harvested in the first place? Continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.
How Are Stem Cells Harvested?
Normally, stem cells move within the bloodstream in very small numbers. They can be harvested from our blood by using a catheter that is inserted into the patient’s vein. A person who is recovering from chemotherapy will have an increased number of cells in their blood.
Blood cell growth factors, known as cytokines, which are given to patients after myelosuppressive chemotherapy, can cause the number of stem cells in a person’s blood to increase 100x. We can also administer cytokines without chemotherapy in order to increase the number of stem cells in someone’s blood.
Stem cell mobilization is the process of administering a growth factor or cytokine with or without myelosuppressive chemotherapy in order to harvest stem cells. Leukine and Neupogen are two cytokines that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration and stimulate the production of stem cells in bone marrow.
Apheresis is the process of actually harvesting the stem cells from the blood. This process is started once there is a large enough number of stem cells within the bloodstream. An apheresis machine collects the stem cells by way of a catheter that’s inserted into a vein.
From the vein, blood flows through the catheter and into the apheresis machine. The machine then separates the stem cells from the blood and moves the rest of the blood back into the patient’s body. This process goes for several days until enough stem cells have been harvested.
What Are Stem Cells Used For?
Stems cells offer doctors and scientists a variety of helpful tools for healing people in need. For example, we can guide stem cells into specific cells. Those stem cells can then repair and regenerate damaged or diseased tissues in people.
People who can benefit from stem cell therapy include those who are suffering from:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Heart disease
- Spinal cord injuries
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
Stem cells can also become new tissue and then be used in regenerative medicine and transplants. Scientists are also finding ways to use stem cell for hair loss.
The Importance of Know More About Stem Cells
Stem cells offer us new and exciting opportunities when it comes to curing disease and helping the sick. By educating ourselves more on the subject and learning how are stem cells harvested, we can understand the subject better and learn how to support its advancement.
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