Embryonic stem cells could be paving the way for fresh new rehabilitation methods for patients.
Our stem cells have an amazing ability to replenish themselves and keep our bodies in a perpetual state of rebuilding. They split and can become another stem cell or other kinds of cells like red blood cells, brain cells or muscle cells. Since 1981, scientists have been studying how embryonic stem cells could grow in a lab to potentially grow human organs, cells, and tissues. Unfortunately, due to regulations and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), most studies were done on lab mice and other animals. Currently, we can use stem cells in our studies to test new drugs or find causes of certain birth defects for humans.
A new study that was just published last month noted that embryonic stem cells could potentially treat diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, diabetes and others.
Since 1998, human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) scientists have been exploring cell therapies that could cure the “incurable.” However, it wasn’t until recent years that we have been able to test actual human hESC as opposed to animal-derived. Finally, however, we will be able to take stem cell research into our own rehab therapies.
What on earth is “molecular karyotyping?”
A technique called molecular karyotyping, an extremely sensitive method of detecting abnormalities in genetic makeups, was used in the recent study that explored laboratory cells.
The study & results
The Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom conducted this study. They found that soon we could be running trials of stem cell therapies to combat things such as spinal cord injuries or Parkinson’s disease. They investigated 25 lines of early embryotic human stem cells to find that over half of these cells had significant genetic differences.
What does this mean for physical therapy and occupational therapy?
For now, it doesn’t seem like we’re going to be ready for stem cell research patient application for quite some time. The scientists found that unfortunately, cells that were grown in the lab for too long showed problems. The researchers noted that they are going to continue to work towards figuring out a possible way to use embryonic cells for patients eventually without complications.
However, assuming that we will one day have this whole stem cell research thing all figured out, we could be seeing a HUGE shift in the role of PTs and OTs. If patients suffered from things such as spinal cord injuries, for example, rehab therapy offices would be flooded with patients seeking some therapy after their cells were replenished. Who knows….within our lifetime, we may start receiving new training for working with patients that have treated certain diseases or injuries with ESCs!