Stem cell research and treatment has been around for over a century, progressing with the innovations and advancements in technology and medicine. This article will give you an overview of the history and current status of stem cell therapy.
Coining the Term
The term “stem cell” originated in 1908, when it was coined by the Russian histologist Alexander Maximow. His theory on haematopoiesis and experimental works were based on his observation of the blood cells, in which he used the words “stem cells” for the blood-building system. According to Maximow, all blood cells originated from a common precursor cell, i.e. a stem cell.
His theories have been analyzed and further studied by scientists ever since, and have set the foundations for stem cell research. Popularly considered to be the founder of the haematopoietic stem cell concept, Maximow’s theories have left a deep mark on scientific research, opening up new possibilities. This includes stem cell transplantation and other revolutionary medical solutions that have emerged in the past century.
Using Bone Marrow Stem Cells
Nearly 50 years later, Edward Donnall Thomas introduced the concept of bone marrow stem cells. In 1956, he treated a leukemia patient by harvesting stem cells from her identical (healthy) twin. These were then injected into the patient, and the treatment was considered to be a success, until six months later when the cancer returned.
In 1969, Thomas successfully performed the world’s first ever bone marrow transplant using donor stem cells. These stem cells were harvested from another person and were used to treat the patient. This led to the standardization of bone marrow transplantation for treating a number of diseases and conditions, including leukemia.
Fast Forwarding to the 21st Century
In the 21st century, there has been an increase in autologous stem cell therapies. In these procedures, the stem cells are harvested from the patient’s own body, either from their bone marrow or adipose tissue This has also led to an increase in autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantations over the years, especially for patients suffering from chronic conditions and those without a sibling donor.
Transplantations aren’t the only way stem cell therapy has progressed in the past two decades. Stem cell research has paved way for injection therapy as well, which is widely used to treat a range of musculoskeletal conditions.
These autologous injections are particularly useful for treating muscle tears, ligament and tendon tears, and soft tissue injuries. From ankle osteoarthritis and tendon regeneration to sports injuries, stem cell injection therapy may be used to reduce pain and inflammation effectively.
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