Context: Researchers are now looking at Stem Cells as a cure for Covid-19 patients.
More on News:
- Key scientific groups worldwide, including those in China and the US, have been working to test the treatment.
- An Israeli pharmaceutical company, Pluristem Therapeutics, has tested it in seven critical hospitalized patients and found positive results. The company is now seeking approval to begin clinical trials.
- The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved clinical trials to study covid-19 patients who have been administered MSC (mesenchymal stem-cells) derived from the placenta to prevent inflammation of lungs.
Efficacy of Approach against Covid 19:
- The therapeutic approach involves intravenous injection of mesenchymal stem-cells (MSC) from a human placenta into a covid-19 patient to boost the body’s immune response against the infection.
- Further Stem-cells have been successful in treating degenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer’s, as well as Type-1 diabetes.
- The advantage that stem-cells have is that they have strong anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties, which can help strengthen our immune system.
- This is important in case of covid-19, where they could reduce inflammation of the lungs, which are the most affected.
- It could help build up regenerative cells in the lungs, which could protect the epithelial cells of the lungs, prevent lung damage and help patients recover.
As the therapeutic approach is in its preliminary stages, it could be months before it is given approval for treatment.There are also tight regulations in place to ensure that this approach does not pose any risk, because of the relative newness of stem-cell treatment.
- They are undifferentiated or partially differentiated cells that can differentiate into various types of cells and divide indefinitely to produce more of the same stem cell.
- Under the right conditions in the body or a laboratory, stem cells divide to form more cells called daughter cells.
- These daughter cells either become new stem cells (self-renewal) or become specialized cells (differentiation) with a more specific function, such as blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle cells or bone cells.
- No other cell in the body has the natural ability to generate new cell types.
Based on formation at Different times of human Life:
- Embryonic stem cells
- These stem cells come from embryos that are three to five days old. At this stage, an embryo is called a blastocyst and has about 150 cells.
- These are pluripotent stem cells, meaning they can divide into more stem cells or can become any type of cell in the body.
- This versatility allows embryonic stem cells to be used to regenerate or repair diseased tissue and organs
- Adult stem cells
- These stem cells are found in small numbers in most adult tissues, such as bone marrow or fat.
- Compared with embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells have a more limited ability to give rise to various cells of the body.
- However, emerging evidence suggests that adult stem cells may be able to create various types of cells.
- For instance, bone marrow stem cells may be able to create bone or heart muscle cells.
- Induced pluripotent stem cells or (iPSC’s)
- These cells are not found in the body but made in the laboratory from cells of the body.
- The iPSC cells have properties similar to those of embryonic stem cells.
- Human iPSCs were generated in 2007.
- Perinatal stem cells.
- Researchers have discovered stem cells in amniotic fluid as well as umbilical cord blood.
- These stem cells also have the ability to change into specialized cells.
- Amniotic fluid fills the sac that surrounds and protects a developing fetus in the uterus.
Based on Potency:
- Totipotent (also known as omnipotent) stem cells can differentiate into embryonic and extraembryonic cell types.
- Such cells can construct a complete, viable organism.
- These cells are produced from the fusion of an egg and sperm cell.
- Cells produced by the first few divisions of the fertilized egg are also totipotent.
- Pluripotent stem cells are the descendants of totipotent cells and can differentiate into nearly all cells, i.e. cells derived from any of the three germ layers.
- Multipotent stem cells can differentiate into a number of cell types, but only those of a closely related family of cells.
- Oligopotent stem cells can differentiate into only a few cell types, such as lymphoid or myeloid stem cells.
- Unipotent cells can produce only one cell type, their own, but have the property of self-renewal, which distinguishes them from non-stem cells
- Increase understanding of how diseases occur.
- By watching stem cells mature into cells in bones, heart muscle, nerves, and other organs and tissue, researchers and doctors may better understand how diseases and conditions develop.
- Test new drugs for safety and effectiveness.
- Before using investigational drugs in people, researchers can use some types of stem cells to test the drugs for safety and quality.
- Generate healthy cells to replace diseased cells (regenerative medicine).
- Stem cells can be guided into becoming specific cells that can be used to regenerate and repair diseased or damaged tissues in people.
Image Source: Livemint