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Stem Cell Myths Debunked

Stem cell therapy has revolutionized modern medicine and has grown into one of the most formative areas of research and therapy options today. However, there is still a lot of controversy surrounding the subject. But, why? Well, the truth of the matter is that most of these viewpoints and objections stem from misconceptions and myths […]

Stem cell therapy has revolutionized modern medicine and has grown into one of the most formative areas of research and therapy options today. However, there is still a lot of controversy surrounding the subject. But, why? Well, the truth of the matter is that most of these viewpoints and objections stem from misconceptions and myths regarding the treatment.

As you may know, we specialize in stem cell banking and therefore, stand by the science and possibilities of its use in modern medicine. We know how valuable regenerative therapy is, and that is why we want to set the record straight by debunking some of the most common stem cell myths out there today.

A History of Controversy

Stem cells, on their own, are not controversial. In 1961, scientists discovered that they are the foundation of our immune system and have the ability to divide and renew themselves into specific types of specialized cells. They can also boost the immune system by reproducing red blood cells to repopulate damaged blood cells.

In 1981, scientists discovered ways to derive embryonic stem cells from early mouse embryos. The controversy and negative connotations didn’t start until the early nineties when scientists discovered a method to derive stem cells from human embryos and grow the cells in a lab. These are known as human embryonic stem cells. Since it was a fairly new form of modern medicine, objections mainly came from individuals who disagreed with scientists destroying the embryo in order to collect these cells. At the time, this was the only method for stem cell research, so it brought up deeper, more complex issues surrounding when life actually begins.

As scientists began to learn other stem cell collecting methods that didn’t require human embryos, ethical concerns became less of an issue. Yet, there are still many people who are against stem cell therapy because of the initial backlash from the nineties.

Common Myths About Stem Cell Research

As we mentioned, despite advances in science, there are still many myths and misconceptions about stem cell research and its possible treatments. Here are some of the most common ones, debunked:

Myth 1: Stem Cells Only Come From Embryos
This is the number one most common myth regarding stem cell therapy. And honestly, it’s the main reason why some people are still against regenerative medicine. So let’s set the record straight: stem cells do not exclusively come from embryos. Most stem cells used in a clinical setting are derived from bone marrow, adipose (fat), and harvested placental or umbilical cord tissue.

Myth 2: Stem Cells Can Cure Anything And Everything
While stem cell therapy continues to advance every day, it is not the ultimate cure-all. However, experimental therapies that may not have seemed possible 15 years ago are being explored today in FDA-regulated clinical trials. Although they cannot cure everything and anything, they have been used in successful FDA-approved treatments for more than 80 serious diseases to replace damaged blood and immune systems with healthy cells including:

  • Blood disorders

    • Aplastic Anemia
    • Beta Thalassemia
    • Diamond-Blackfan Anemia
    • Fanconi Anemia
    • Refractory Anemia with Ringed Sideroblasts (RARS)
    • Sickle Cell Disease
  • Cancers

    • Chronic Leukemia
    • Acute Leukemia
    • High-Risk Solid Tumors
    • Hodgkin & Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
    • Myelodysplastic Syndromes
  • Immune disorders

    • Chronic Granulomatous Disease
    • Histiocytic Disorders
    • Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency
    • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Diseases
    • Thymic Dysplasia
  • Metabolic disorders

    • Krabbe Disease
    • Hurler Syndrome
    • Metachromatic Leukodystrophy
    • Sanfilippo Syndrome
    • Tay Sachs

Myth 3: Stem Cell Therapy Doesn’t Work
This misconception is damaging to the greater good, because it may prevent someone from exploring possible treatment options using stem cell therapy that could potentially save their life.

In the case of cord blood, cord tissue and placental tissue, this myth may prevent parents from exploring their options for private blood bank storage for future use for their family.

Myth 4: Collection of Umbilical Cord Stem Cells Will Hurt The Baby
This myth could not be further from the truth. No blood is taken directly from your baby. When parents choose to preserve their baby’s stem cells (cord blood, cord tissue, or placental tissue) it is completely painless for both the mother and the baby.

Myth 5: Cord Blood Therapies Are Limited To The Treatment Of Children
Although this may have been true in the early years of cord blood transplants, it is no longer the case. Cord blood stored in a private bank can be used by your child in the future (as adults) or by someone else in your family who is a match.

Myth 6: Banked Cord Blood Stem Cells Expire
Most private cord blood banks offer storage terms of 15-20 years and because of that, many people think that the “shelf life” is only for those respective years. But that is not the case. At AlphaCord, newborn Stem Cells are stored at approximately -196°C (-316°F). Some of the oldest samples successfully engrafted were cryogenically stored for over 30 years. Scientific researchers believe that items suspended in a cryogenic state can remain viable in a cryogenic state indefinitely.

Conclusion

As you can see, the most common stem cell myths are based on misinformation or misconceptions regarding the matter. It is critical that people understand how stem cell therapy has advanced in the last thirty years, so we can keep moving forward.

At AlphaCord, we have worked with tens of thousands of families to preserve their newborn’s valuable stem cells through cord blood and tissue banking. You only have one chance to save your baby’s cord blood, tissues, and placental tissue, so if you have questions or additional concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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