Categories
News on Health & Science

Banking on Stem Cells

[amazon_link asins=’B017I4ZC94,B000W9SJO8,B002ZH9AHK’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’594d435b-f344-11e6-8cf8-d1f07647d9a2′]
Advertisements in the media advise parents to “plan and protect your children’s future and their health status”. These are not commercials for insurance plans, but private stem cell banking facilities, where, for a steep price, your baby’s umbilical cord stem cells can be preserved for future use.
..click & see

Stem cells are in the news. Independent national and international laboratories are making claims and counterclaims about the “miracles” they have achieved with them. Paralysed people have been able to walk, rare degenerative nervous and muscular system diseases been reversed, and some cancers of the blood cells cured. People with terminal illnesses have also been offered hope…..click & see

Actress Lisa Ray underwent stem cell therapy for multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells...click & see

Stem cells may be embryonic, adult or derived from umbilical cords. Embryonic stem cells are obtained from the extra fertilised eggs at in vitro fertilisation (IVF) centres. The use of these cells is controversial, as, theoretically, they have the potential to become human beings. They are the “spare babies” belonging to a particular IVF couple. When supplied to a stem cell research facility, they are grown in a nutrient broth in a culture dish and used for research or treatment.

Adult stem cells are found in bone marrow. These are harvested from the bone marrow of living donors. It’s a surgical procedure done under anaesthesia with some post-operative discomfort. The cells are capable of eventually forming either various types of blood cells or stromal cells from which cartilage and fat tissues arise.

Haematologists treat a variety of hereditary blood disorders and some of the blood cancers with either autologous (the person’s own) stem cells or compatible donor cells from bone marrow transplants. This technology has been used for the last 30 years. Bone marrow transplants are life saving for people with certain blood cancers. They can also be used for serious blood disorders such as aplastic anaemia. They can also help boost the immune system if it is impaired because of an inherited genetic defect or destroyed by cancer.

Umbilical cords are a rich and non-controversial source of stem cells. Cord blood has a greater ability to generate new blood cells than does bone marrow. Also, smaller quantities of cord blood cells are needed for successful transplantation. These cords are normally discarded along with the placenta from labour wards all over the world.

At present, in India, patients who require stem cell treatment or a bone marrow transplant have to search for a relative who is an appropriate tissue match. Sometimes even close first-degree relatives like a parent or sibling are not compatible. India does not as yet have a centralised national bone marrow registry to match recipients and donors.

Some foresighted countries with efficient national health schemes like the United Kingdom and Brazil do have public cord blood banks. Blood is screened for infective agents, documented in a registry and stored. The chances of finding compatible stem cells are high because of the large volumes stored.

India has private cord blood banks which store blood only for the use of that particular child for a period of 21 years. It may be a cost effective option for parents who have a family history of certain genetic diseases, such as severe hereditary anaemias, immune disorders or certain cancers. Even then, the chance that the blood can be used for that particular child is only 1 in 2,000. In families with no such risk factors, there is only about a 1-in-20,000 chance of the child ever needing a stem cell transplantation. Also, even if the child does require a stem cell transplant, it is unlikely that his or her own cord blood would be the desired source of stem cells. The same chromosomal or genetic defect causing the leukaemia, any other cancer or metabolic disorder, is likely to be present in the child’s stem cell line. There is no proof that a transplant using the child’s own stem cells is effective or even safe, especially in cases of childhood cancers.

Indians have a very diverse genetic make-up. The large-scale collection and storage of cord blood in public banks will be very useful. It can be used for matched unrelated recipients who urgently need blood cell transplants.

Stem cells are probably the future of medicine and the human race. They are multifaceted and have the potential to develop into different cell types. They can theoretically keep dividing as long as the person is alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another specialised cell like a muscle cell, red blood cell, or brain cell. This means stem cells can be infused as a sort of emergency repair mechanism to replenish damaged tissues.

Perhaps disease, aging, cancer and even death can be controlled and conquered. And living healthily forever may become a reality.

Source
:The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements
Categories
News on Health & Science

Arthritis Therapies ‘Ineffective’

Most complementary therapies used by people with rheumatoid arthritis are not effective, a study has suggested.

CLICK  & SEE

The Arthritis Research Campaign looked at the scientific evidence available for 40 treatments.

Two thirds of treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and a fifth of treatments for osteoarthritis were found to be ineffective by the researchers.

The Arthritis Research Campaign said it wanted people who used the therapies to know what evidence was available.

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by inflammation of the lining (synovium) of the joints.

Osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of protective tissue called cartilage in the joints. Inflammation results when the unprotected bones of the joint begin to rub together.

It most commonly affects the joints of the fingers, knees, hips, and spine.

In total, 60% of people with arthritis are thought to use some form of complementary medicine.

Antler velvet

The researchers looked at compounds taken by the mouth or applied to the skin.

Effectiveness is measured by improvements in pain, movement or general well-being.

When the researchers examined treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, they found 13 out of 21 complementary medicines were shown to have no or little effect based on the available evidence.

The 13 were: antler velvet powder, blackcurrant seed oil, collagen, eazmov (a herbal mixture), feverfew (herb), flaxseed oil, green-lipped mussels, homeopathy, reumalex herbal mixture, selenium, the Chinese herb tong luo kai bi, vitamins A, C and E, and willow bark.

However, fish body oil was given five out of five in the report, for being effective in reducing joint pain and stiffness.

In addition, six out of 27 treatments for osteoarthritis were shown to have little or no effect based on the available evidence

Capsaicin gel, made from chilli peppers, proved most effective in relieving pain and joint tenderness.

But the effectiveness of glucosamine, a popular supplement used by people with OA which costs around £10 a month, which researchers have previously said was ineffective, again called into question.

For fibromyalgia, which causes widespread pain in muscles and joints, only four products were assessed, none were found to be highly effective with three medicines scoring two out of five, and the fourth just one.

Side effects

The researchers also examined how safe compounds were.

One – thunder god vine, a traditional Chinese medicine – was given a “red” classification, meaning there were serious safety concerns.

A quarter of the compounds were given an “amber” safety classification, because there were some reported side-effects.

The team said they were unable to evaluate the effectiveness of 36 therapies, including basil, green tea, sarsaparilla and St John’s Wort because there was insufficient data.

Professor Gary Macfarlane, from the University of Aberdeen, said while different things worked for different people, “it is useful to also have the scientific evidence available and just as important to know how safe we think they are to use.”

Professor Alan Silman, the Arthritis Research Campaign’s medical director, added: “We didn’t start this saying this was our opportunity to knock complementary medicines.

“The message is not ‘don’t take them’. The message is ‘if you are going to take them, be aware of what the level of evidence is’.”

Dr Peter Fisher, clinical director of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, said the report focused on tablets and preparations applied to the skin, missing out therapies such as acupuncture and osteopathy.

“I think what really comes across in this report is how sorely under-researched this area is,” he said.

Jane Gray, president, of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists added: “This report is a commendable attempt to provide information on self help products for osteo and rheumatoid arthritis.”

Sources: BBC NEWS:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Categories
News on Health & Science

Leukemia stem cells to map how disease begins

[amazon_link asins=’B01EVN45OS,B009KV1996,B008R53XNG,B00J2FFZAY,B00IU19RVE,B00GM09K1C,B01CGTKZZW,0986340995,B072VP7NGW’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’17cf4a1e-8888-11e7-a7cd-0771e4f782ee’]

In a major breakthrough that could help devise better treatment for blood cancer and aid the development of drugs that would stop the process before it advances, Canadian scientists have for the first time converted normal human blood cells to leukemia stem cells in the lab.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

The team then transplanted the converted cells into lab mice and watched it replicate the entire disease process, from the very moment it begins. Till now, most human leukemia research involved studying a patient’s diseased cells. But because cancer takes months to develop, “just studying the cells at the end of the process does not tell us the series of changes that caused the cells to become leukemic and when they happened. We have now duplicated the natural process of cell death, as it happens. This will help us understand how cancer begins,” Dr John Dick at Ontario Cancer Institute said.

According to Dick, this peek into leukemia’s development will allow scientists to ask questions that include: Is the childhood disease different from that in adults? In which cell type does leukemia arise? And which genes are involved and in which order do they have to operate?

Reacting to the study, former head of Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute Dr Y P Bhatia told TOI, “Once the basic cellular structure is known, better treatment solutions can be devised. This is a major breakthrough. Scientists can now see the first cells that will give birth to leukemia and then watch as the disease as it slowly progresses.”

The groundbreaking research involved infecting cells from umbilical cord blood with a virus engineered to carry one of the genes known to cause certain types of leukemia. Dr Dick’s team introduced a specific leukemia gene into normal stem cells and injected the genetically altered cells into mice that lacked immune systems. This resulted in the mices developing leukemia, displaying the same characteristics and patterns of human disease.

He said, “We are studying how leukemia arises in the first place. We found that with the leukemia gene we were using, the disease only arose from immature stem and progenitor cells. The leukemic stem cells that were created seemed to change as the human leukemia was grown for longer times in a series of transplanted mice.”

Source:The Times Of India