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Stem cells usage is one of the most perspective medical fields. In Germany and other developed countries, huge amounts of money are invested in the research and development of this field, since in the future it will allow to cure many diseases which are still incurable.
However, not many people are interested in the future. How does the situation look like today? In many countries, the cell therapy is widely used in the treatment of many diseases of the nervous system, musculoskeletal system, cardiovascular pathology, oncological diseases, etc. Let us take a closer look at the possibilities of the stem cell therapy.
Oncology has become one of the first areas of stem cells administration. Their transplantation is used in oncohematological diseases. This procedure is also called a bone marrow transplantation. The main indications are leukemia, multiple myeloma, Hodgkin lymphoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphomas.
The transplantation may be autologous or allogeneic. In the first case, patient’s own stem cells are used. They are obtained from the peripheral blood, and then cultivated in order to increase their number. The allogeneic transplantation implies sampling of cells from a histologically compatible donor.
The autologous transplantation is less effective. In malignant processes, it does not cure the disease completely. The advantages are rapid recovery of immunity and absence of necessity to look for a donor. There is no need for immunosuppressive drugs intake, since the reaction of rejection ("graft versus host") never occurs.
The allogeneic stem cell transplantation has a higher efficacy. A donor is chosen among the relatives or from a bank. One of the largest donor banks is located in Germany. There are over 5 million people in its database, and each person is ready to provide his stem cells, if they are compatible with the patient.
Some eye diseases are not curable. These are nerve tissue pathologies. In case of retina or optic nerve damage, the visual acuity cannot be restored. Blindness due to the damage of these eye structures is considered to be irreversible.
But recently the issue has moved on from the dead point. Retinal diseases and optic nerve damage cannot be completely restored, but with usage of stem cells good results have already been achieved. It became possible to grow the retina and transplant it to the patient. Also, stem cells are injected into the human body in order to stimulate the optic nerve regeneration.
As for now, these medical fields are being actively researched. It is too early to speak about a complete victory over the severe ophthalmologic diseases. The first transplantation of retina grown from the stem cells took place only in 2017. But nowadays in the developed countries medical tourists may take an advantage of the latest developments in the field of stem cells treatment, as well as participate in clinical trials.
Human stem cells are used for regeneration of cartilage. Most often, this technique is applied for treatment of the knee joint arthrosis. Cartilage cannot restore its structure – due to the lack of blood supply metabolic processes in it are extremely slow. This is the main problem in the treatment of arthrosis. This disease is not reversible and often leads to the complete destruction of the joint followed by the replacement surgery.
Nevertheless, in recent years more and more methods of repairing articular surface defects appear. One of them involves usage of stem cells. Stem cells are injected into the knee joint and fixed with a collagen matrix. They differentiate into chondrocytes, cells of cartilage tissue, and close defect of the articular surface. In many cases, this procedure allows patient to avoid implantation of an artificial knee joint.
Nerve cells cannot be restored. It is a common known fact. But stem cells can differentiate into neurons. Therefore, cell therapy is used in treatment of many diseases of the central nervous system, such as:
- Alzheimer's disease
- Parkinson's disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Diabetic polyneuropathy
- Consequences of injuries, hypoxia, infectious diseases of the CNS
It is effective for those diseases which are accompanied by degradation of the nervous tissue. Stem cells help to restore it. It requires a long course of cell therapy. The first results are seen almost immediately after the injection of stem cells. But side effects may also occur. They disappear by the end of the second week of treatment. The most significant therapy result is achieved in approximately six months.
In diabetes mellitus type 1 beta cells of pancreas are destroyed. These cells are responsible for the production of insulin. As a result of the deficiency of this hormone, the glucose transport into the tissues is disturbed. Therefore, glucose level in the blood rises, and a person is needs constant insulin injections in order to avoid the hyperglycemia.
Doctors have managed to partially solve this problem with the help of stem cells. Pluripotent stem cells differentiate into beta cells and begin to produce insulin. Unfortunately, one problem remains unsolved. Immunity, which has previously destroyed pancreatic cells, does it again after the implantation of new beta cells. Therefore, in is possible to reach only temporary effect. It lasts for several years, and then gradually decreases.
Besides, with the help of stem cells it is possible only to reduce risk of complications and insulin doses, but not to cure the disease completely. But researches in this field are underway. It is possible that in the nearest future doctors will find an "antidote" against the abnormal immune reactions that destroy own cells.
Other medical fields
Stem cells may be applied in other medical fields as well.
In pulmonology, they are used for treatment of bronchial asthma. In case of injection of cells through the nose decrease in the severity of inflammatory reactions in the bronchi, normalization of reactivity, and elimination of signs of fibrosis are noted. Possibility of growing up and transplantation of bronchopulmonary system structures is being researched. It is important in many diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, sarcoidosis, pulmonary fibrosis.
In nephrology, stem cells are already used for treatment of polycystic kidney disease. The first successful attempts to grow the whole kidney were made. In the future, this method may replace transplantation of a donor kidney. The new kidney from own stem cells will be grown, and then it will be transplanted instead of the damaged organ.
In cardiology, stem cells are used for growing the vascular prostheses. They will have a greater biocompatibility. In addition, cardiac sclerosis in the outcome of myocardial infarction is treated with stem cells in some hospitals. In such patients replacement of muscle tissue with the scar tissue occurs. Although it closes the defect, this tissue cannot contract and relax. As a result, the myocardial function suffers. Injection of stem cells helps to normalize the regenerative processes and restore lost muscle fibers.
Treatment in Germany
It is possible that stem cells are not yet applied in your native country. But they are used abroad. Fortunately, medical tourism exists. Each person can visit any country in order to receive medical help. The most popular are countries with a high level of medical services.
Many people prefer to receive treatment in Germany. Here, the healthcare system is well funded, and a lot of researches are being carried out in order to study properties of stem cells and their practical application. In Germany, diagnostics is very accurate, and treatment is carried out according to the most modern standards. Many techniques which are used in Germany are not available in other countries.
Booking Health is ready to help you to organize a trip to Germany for treatment. Cooperation with us gives you the following advantages:
- Choosing a hospital where the stem cells are used most effectively
- Preparing treatment program without repeating previous diagnostic procedures
- Establishing communication with specialists of the hospital
- Reducing treatment costs due to the absence of overpricing for foreign patients
- Monitoring the medical program at all stages
- Help in forwarding of medicines abroad
- Control of invoices and return of unspent funds
- Organization of additional medical or diagnostic procedures
We provide a high quality service. Our experts will help you to prepare documents for trip and treatment in Germany, book hotel and plane tickets. We will meet you at the airport and take to the hospital by car. You will be accompanied by an interpreter, so you will communicate with the administration of the hospital and the medical staff easily.
Choose treatment abroad and you will for sure get the best results!
Author: Dr. Nadezhda Ivanisova