Stem cell is one of the master cells of human body with the ability to grow into any one type out of body’s more than 200 cell types. These stem cells preserve the ability to divide throughout life and give rise to cells that can become highly specialised and take the place of cells that are dead or lost.
The biological task of stem cells is to repair and regenerate the damaged cells in our body. Stem cells can help in healing of the damaged tissue when these cells are administered either systemically or directly into the damaged tissue. For example, bone marrow stem cells are the most primitive cells in the marrow. Various types of blood cells are derived from them. Bone marrow stem cell transfusions or transplants are done to treat blood disorders including leukemia, lymphomas etc.
The surprising properties of stem cells are ability to renew and repair tissues which are injured. Thus (a) They can renew themselves for long periods through cell division and (b) under certain physiological conditions; they can differentiate to other types of cells such as nerve cells, muscle, blood cells etc.
Diseases currently treatable by stem cell therapy are critical limb ischemia, acute myocardial infraction, spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes type 1, muscular dystrophy, motor neuron disease, osteoarthritis etc.
The stem cells have been the focus of research in recent years because of their enormous potential to heal human organs affected by diseases which are not treatable by conventional medical therapies.
There is a hope that stem cell therapy will be available in Bangladesh in near future. Some organisations are trying to introduce therapeutic services.
Dr Sovan Dey
The writer is a student of Public health research at Latrobe University, Melbourne, Australia.
E-mail: [email protected]
Source: The Daily Star, August 15, 2009