What stem cell therapies are available for deformities?

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Offline thedoc

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Mark asked the Naked Scientists:
I have deformed feet, starting with hammer which has caused a lack of balance on my feet. I also have hand issues, deformities, due to computer use as well as physical injuries sustained when I was younger and never treated.  I don't wish to undergo traditional surgery as that is not really a solution. 

I would like to know if there are any stem cell therapies or experimental DNA reprogramming trials or therapies that would help me experimental or not, preferably non-governmental.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 10/06/2015 22:36:03 by evan_au »


Offline evan_au

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Re: What stem call therapies are available for deformities?
« Reply #1 on: 10/06/2015 13:08:14 »
At this point in time, Stem Cell therapies are highly experimental, and most of the benefits are purely theoretical. The risks, however, are very real.

There have been some successes with stem cells which are transplanted into a damaged tissue, which then multiply to become functional cells in the target tissue, replacing those that have been damaged by injury. This merely mirrors what happens in healthy tissues; most tissues have a small stock of stem cells that can multiply to replace those lost to injury or age (unfortunately, the spinal cord seems to be one of the exceptions).

However, if there is a structural problem in the tissue, the stem cells will mostly just multiply to fill the pre-existing scaffold in the tissue, replicating the existing structural problem.

Most adult stem cells are partially specialised, so transplantation into a very different tissue type is unlikely to be successful. It is possible to reverse this specialisation with "induced pluripotent stem cells", but there are very real concerns that these could carry an increased risk of cancer.

Foetal stem cells are not yet specialised, but as they are not genetically matched to the recipient, there are risks of rejection. There are bans on this technique in many countries, on ethical grounds.

So at this point in time, there has been little success in stem cell therapy generally, and current techniques don't seem directly applicable to correcting physical deformities.


Offline syhprum

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Re: What stem call therapies are available for deformities?
« Reply #2 on: 10/06/2015 16:32:04 »
In America a "snake oil" type industry has grown up with practitioners offering injections of centrifuged so called stem cells extracted from the patients (suckers!) fat, high prices are charged for these treatment and they are about as effective as acupuncture  or homeopathy.   
« Last Edit: 10/06/2015 16:38:56 by syhprum »