Urban lifestyle can be a bane as much as a boon. Certain diseases and disorders have become a common occurrence thanks to our sedentary routine and stress. Our health is a result of a combination of genetic, nutritional, socio-cultural, economic factors and physical infrastructure.
Lifestyle disorders like diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases are affecting the health of thousands of people everyday. Stem cell therapies have an immense potential in treating the incurable and irreversible lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, bringing this therapy at the centre stage of medical evolution.
However, there are certain other lifestyle disorders that are taking a toll on the human health like hair fall, ageing, blindness and infertility. Here again, stem cell therapy acts as regenerative medicine by repairing dysfunctional or injured tissue. Let's examine the role of stem cell therapy in curing lifestyle disorders:
Hair loss is a frustrating and embarrassing experience as one ages. Voluminous hair is associated with vitality and youth. Stem cell therapy may be the key to bringing back those lost strands of hair, which are turned into hair follicle cells and transplanted onto denuded parts of the scalp or body. Compared to the invasive methods like hair replacement surgeries, researchers have genetically modified adult human skin cells to form an epithelial stem cell. This cell is one of the building blocks for functioning hair follicles and produces structurally recognisable hair shafts.
Infertility problems have been a major source of concern for Indian couples lately because of changes in lifestyle and stress. While poor sperm count plays a major role in male infertility, female infertility is an outcome of health disorders like polycystic ovarian disorder or PCOD. Stem cells are being considered as potential new therapeutic agents for the treatment of infertility, wherein the cells could be stimulated in-vitro to develop various numbers of specialised cells including male and female gametes, given their potential use in reproductive medicine.
As we age, a large number of cells in our bodies get replaced and our body's ability to produce new cells decreases drastically. Body fat is the richest source of adult stem cells in the human body. They carry the incredible capacity to not only divide to form more stem cells, but also to differentiate into specialised cells to regenerate dying or damaged tissues. Stem cell treatments help in reloading the supply of stem cells, allowing the body to repair and rejuvenate with younger looking skin. By inserting these stem cells, along with some fat tissue into the areas of the face with wrinkles, the face is subtly altered without letting it lose its distinctiveness.
For those suffering from visual impairment, the thought of getting their eyesight back may seem like an impossible dream. Macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults, and when it strikes, it affects the area of the eye that is helps see fine details. Through stem cell therapy, stem cells are injected into the rear of the eye in order to replace the damaged photoreceptors, which are small but crucial cells found in the retina. These photoreceptors are sensitive to light and are vital to a person's ability to see things.
The advent of clinical researches on stem cell therapies is a ray of hope to reverse the effects of these disorders.
(The author is CEO, Advancells)