It is quite likely that we may have come across stem cells and also have heard about stem cell transplantation. But not many of us would have in-depth knowledge about it. However, if we look around the internet, print media and electronic media, there is quite a bit of talk about stem transplant research and other matters related to it. We will get started by understanding the meaning of stem cells from a layman’s point of view and then try and have a look at the pros and cons associated with stem cells. Put in simple words, stem cells are cells that are extremely critical and crucial for developing new organisms. They are also referred to as non-specialized cells. They have the capability of creating new types of specific cells and they include muscle cells, blood cells, brain cells, and tissue cells. Stem cells continue to grow and thrive in our body till we die but they are known to be more active and more potent in the unborn fetus when compared to the adult body. Some types of cells are capable of creating create all other cells in our body. Few stem cells can repair and even replace damaged tissue cells in our bodies. Embryonic stem cells are the ones that are developed from the female egg once it gets fertilized by sperm. The process could take up to five days.
What Is Stem Cell Transplantation?
In a normal human being, stem cells help produce white blood cells, red blood cells and also platelets amongst other essential things. They are mostly produced in the bone marrow. But in some cases, the bone marrow does not produce adequate bone marrow cells or stem cells because of various reasons. It could be because of some autoimmune disease or other man-made reasons. When a person is treated for cancer and other critical diseases, they are put on some very strong and harsh drugs and chemicals. They are also subject to radiation therapy and chemotherapy. All this could lead to rapid and fast destruction of the bone marrow and this could critically impact the production of bone marrow stem cells. In many cases, the bone marrow may completely stop producing the important stem cells and once this happens it could lead to severe problems. This is when stem cell transplant or bone marrow transplant becomes critical and could make the difference between life and death. However, like all interventions, stem cell transplant and bone marrow transplant has its pros and cons.
Pros of Stem Cell Transplant
- As mentioned above, it could make the difference between life and death for a patient.
- It could help give a boost to the production of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets and let us not forget that these are extremely critical.
- It could help the patient to get back to normal life.
Cons of Stem Cell Transplant
However, on the flip side stem cell transplantation and bone marrow transplantation has risks and problems. The problem of infection and the problem of rejection are perhaps the most obvious and it keeps happening at regular intervals.