In October, I reported on how immunotherapy and regenerative medicine are emerging as perhaps our best hope in combating disease in a world where human survival is viewed more and more as being dependent on having, protecting and restoring a strong immune system.
Among the studies I cited were two published in the journal Nature, in which researchers found a way to make stem cells by purposely putting mature cells under stress. The new method, stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency, or STAP, does not involve the destruction of embryos or inserting new genetic material into cells, and it also avoids the problem of rejection.
It's estimated that the method is five to 10 times faster than other means of reprogramming cells. This breakthrough may soon lead to the development of therapies to repair bodily damage and cure disease by doctors being able to insert cells that can grow into whatever tissues or organs are needed. It could also lead to understanding the process by which certain cells become cancerous.
This research comes on the heels of a study from Loyola University Medical Center that found that growing stem cells from umbilical cord blood in a laboratory before transplanting them into patients significantly improved outcomes, a process that may also increase the pool of patients who benefit from stem cell transfer treatments.
In another development, Translational Bioscience, a subsidiary of Medistem Panama, received authorization in April to begin phase one and two of clinical trials using human umbilical cord-derived stem cells for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
The building, cumulative effect of these findings is to provide further examples of why the use of umbilical cord-derived stem cell therapy is viewed as one of the most promising new frontiers in medicine in repairing damaged tissue. It can help those whose conditions have not responded to traditional treatments; it can possibly save the lives of patients who have no other treatment options. Yet it is an area of medicine only partially explored.
I know the value of this pioneering therapy because my wife, Gena, has been the beneficiary of umbilical cord-derived stem cells for the treatment of health issues that were for too long misdiagnosed and improperly treated by specialists who dealt with tradition medicine.
"We are standing at the threshold of a new and exciting medical era — an era of regeneration, rejuvenation, and renewal in which stem cells will set the stage for healing and, in some cases, the restoration of injured, diseased, and debilitated tissues and organs," says Dr. David Steenblock in the introduction of his book "Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Therapy." Steenblock is an osteopathic physician, board-certified in neurology and occupational medicine, and the founder and president of the Steenblock Research Institute.
Though this area of medicine is rich with promise, Steenblock is quick to point out that much of the work is still in its formative trial stages.
It is important that we accelerate this process. Stem cells have been likened to seeds from which many body tissues grow. If science can dedicate itself to harnessing stem cells' healing power — especially umbilical cord-derived stem cells — it can revolutionize medicine, restore the health of an untold number of people and save a vast number of lives.
I can't think of a more important field of medical study.
Write to Chuck Norris ([email protected]) with your questions about health and fitness. Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook's "Official Chuck Norris Page." He blogs at http://chucknorrisnews.blogspot.com. To find out more about Chuck Norris and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.