Editor’s Note: “2 Your Health” is a new column in the Sun Lakes Splash dedicated to health issues. Each month different doctors and or medical associations, from varying specialties, will be writing on issues of importance. Articles are based on experiences and independent research conducted by the doctors or medical associations. We encourage anyone considering changing medications and or altering medical therapy, as a result of information contained in these articles, to consult your doctor first. Robson Publishing, a division of Robson Communities, Inc. is not liable for information contained in these articles.
Stem cells take center stage
David Ebner, Staff Writer
The world will never forget the day when four young men from Liverpool, England walked onto the stage of The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. The bright stage lights and the squeals from the crowd rained down on the group and that grainy black and white image was pinned as a major moment in music history.
The introduction of stem cell research to the world stage was not filled with as much fanfare. There were no screaming fans or standing ovations when the first stem cell therapy was conducted in the form of a bone marrow transplant in 1956. The long hours that scientists spent diligently researching and studying cells in laboratories across the world were not recorded in the pages of Life magazine. Even in 2012, when the two scientists who discovered the application of stem cells as the building blocks for human life won a Nobel Prize, the response was limited to the medical community.
While the history of stem cell research may seem dwarfed in comparison to that of the Beatles or Elvis Presley, its impact on the healthcare and medical industry is anything but small. Adult stem cells live all over the body, and if extracted and reintroduced to the body, they can specialize as whatever type of cell they are near. For example, if stem cells from a patient’s abdominal fat were removed, isolated and reintroduced to the lungs of the patient with a progressive lung disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the stem cells would become lung cells. These new cells would be disease free and would regenerate more disease-free lung cells, inevitably increasing lung function. For someone with a debilitating disease, a stem cell treatment like this could mean the difference between struggling for air and breathing easier.
The staff at the Lung Institute has successfully performed such procedures on over 500 patients. Many of these patients have shared their personal stories online at www.LungInstitute.com. The Lung Institute’s Medical Director, Dr. Burton Feinerman said, “Stem cells are important because they offer a different approach. Instead of just treating symptoms and making the patient a little more comfortable, stem cells target the disease and can repair the damaged tissue.”
It’s difficult to imagine a medical breakthrough taking center stage over a story about the latest sensation. However, that isn’t to say that life-changing advancements in medical therapies, like stem cell treatments, aren’t occurring every day. The people that have sought these innovative treatments are already seeing these advancements in action, and although they may not be screaming like the crazed Beatles fans of the ‘60s, the stem cell fan base is growing every day with people that can now breathe easier.