Stem Cells Therapy Is Not Benign Yet
Stem cells are the so-called “master template cells” designated for universal use. In the body they can became cells of any specialty. They therefore would initially appear to represent like an ideal way to replace old, sick or damaged cells in any organ. Under such circumstances, it is no surprise that stem cell research has become a hot field in the majority of scientifically advanced countries. Most debates are centered on ethical and religious aspects of stem cell medicine. At the same time, however, the clinical aspects in general and the side effects in particular have not been studied well enough.
To have a clinically significant effect, it is necessary to inject about 100 million “magic cells.” That leads to the question, “Where do you get them from?” Embryonic and umbilical cord materials are one source. Another source is a person’s fat. A small amount of cells can undergo the process of multiplication. But the cell could be divided only about five times, after which they become uncontrollable and easily could become malignant in their behavior. If, by accident, such cells were to come in contact with an existing cancer cell, a stem cell starts to “specialize” in multiplying cancer.
The Russian Academy of Medical Science officially allows only three stem cell divisions to decrease the potential for malignant transformation, and then only for specific research indications. This is not the only Academy that has strict policies of supervisions and regulation and, up to now, the stem cell therapy is not accepted yet in the medical community.
Regardless, some cosmetic clinics have started to use stem cell injections to “rejuvenate” people as well as for severe back pain to “replace” bad spinal discs. One respected Russian-language Israeli periodical reports that two celebrities, actresses Lubov Polishuk and Clara Luchko, suddenly developed cancer and quickly died after stem cell “treatment” for pain in one such private clinic in the Moscow area. In all fairness, the periodical does not report whether the pain represented a symptom of and undiagnosed and untreated cancer.
“Doctors do not yet know how stem cells will behave when injected into a real patient. Sometimes, their behavior is unpredictable and cells may become cancerous. After their injection, the time required to develop the cancerous process might be years,” said Arthur Isaev, MD, Director of the Stem Cell Institute in Moscow. Clearly, our readers will hear more about these wondrous cells in the years to come, but it may be decades before we know all that we need to know to use them effectively.