Health

Gilbert RogersDecember 7, 2018
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6min4

Facts About Stem Cells

Although they are popular, little is really known about stem cells, especially in what they can do. However, researchers have already uncovered some facts about them which will be further discussed in this article.

What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells, to put it simply, are ‘unspecialized’ or ‘primitive’ cells that have unique characteristics- traits that are just not found in any other cell in the body.

The reason why they are called unspecialized is due to the fact they are cells that do not have a specific function yet. They have yet to change into cells that have a set developmental path.

A prime example of this would be the heart cells. The cells that are present near the said organ is able to regulate the beating of the heart as well as making sure that it beats properly as well.

There are many types of stem cells. The Embryonic Stem Cell can be found in an embryo. Whenever a sperm and an egg cell combines and starts fertilizing, they will form an embryo. That embryo contains stem cells that are Totipotent or has the ability to change into any of the cell types that are currently present in the human body.

The other type of stem cell is the adult stem cell. Also known as Somatic stem cells, these cells are able to transform only to the cells where they originate from. For example, bone marrow stem cells can turn into bone marrow stem cells only.

The process of changing into a specialized cell with a specific function is known as differentiation.

Why Do They Have So Much Importance?

Some Simple Facts About Stem CellsStem cells are quite important to our bodies because of two reasons.

One, it has the ability to divide indefinitely which can be used to create a treatment plan for people who are suffering from various medical conditions, most especially the ones that suffer from tissue damage.

Two, because it can divide indefinitely and turn into specific cells, stem cells can regenerate damaged tissues in the body with relative ease. When given enough time and when given the right conditions, the stem cells could potentially create a new organ to replace the old and damaged organs in the body!

The Different Types of Stem Cells

I’ve already discussed the two main types of stem cells, but there are also other types as well (albeit, not as commonly used as the former two). They are:

  • Peripheral Blood Stem CellsAlso known as the PBSC, this type of stem cell can be extracted from a blood sample. It gives birth to a variety of different cells including the red blood cells, platelets, granulocytes, and lymphocytes.
  • Umbilical Cord Stem Cells These cells are derived from the amniotic fluid that is present inside the umbilical cord of a newborn child. Although they have the ability to differentiate into different cells, the cells it can turn into is very limited.
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Because the use of embryonic stem cells is highly controversial, scientists have devised a way to turn some somatic stem cells into induced pluripotent stem cells; stem cells which have nearly the same characteristics to that of the embryonic stem cells. It can divide indefinitely and it has the power to turn into any cell you can think of (provided it is found in the human body, of course).

Stem Cell Applications

The use of stem cells is plenty. It can be used for research purposes and it can be used as a treatment protocol as well.

Some Simple Facts About Stem CellsIn fact, bone marrow transplants are quite common and this procedure has been known to restore the bone marrow cells that are lost due to chemotherapy.

It does have plenty of potentials to treat various diseases, although it is still being researched for its effectivity and most especially, its safety.


Gilbert RogersOctober 11, 2018
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10min13

Red blood cells are responsible for bringing oxygen to every corner of your body and take along with them wastes. Red blood cells have a tough job squeezing through tight passages which shortens their lifespan to 4 months.

New red blood cells are replaced from stem cells. Stem cells are special kinds of cells that can become any type of cell. Our other cells divide into exactly the same kind of cell like skin cells will divide into skin cells, etc.

That’s why embryos grow from one fertilized egg cell into a fetus with trillions of cells that are specialized to become tissues for the skin, brain and muscles and organs. Stem cells can also be a replacement for damaged or worn out cells like red blood cells.

Scientists are excited to use the amazing abilities of stem cell therapy to replace or repair tissues damaged by diseases or accidents which will heal the body on its own. Scientists are now putting specialized cells to work in repairing damage that can make permanent disabilities history.

Meet the family

The marrow inside the bone is where blood stem cells divide and reproduce. They morph into either blood cells, different types of white blood cells and others remain as stem cells. These are specialized cells that cannot transform into another kind of cell other than blood.

Pluripotent stem cells can transform into any type or kind of cell in the body and are known to be generalized stem cells. These cells also known as embryonic cells that were originally from embryos, where they are taken in the first few days after it has been fertilized. In this stage, these two cells divide into identical cells with potential to become any type of cell. After three to five days however, these cells begin to become specialized transforming into muscle, stomach, brain cells, etc., and become limited.

When babies are born, most of their cells are specialized with their own function and use like muscle, blood cells, etc. Among these cells are also adult stem cells that can’t transform into any other type of cell, but can replace different worn out cells if needed like the ones in the marrow where blood cells come from, the ones in the brain, gut and heart.

The embryonic stem cells are the most useful among the others because it is more flexible compared to adult stem cells, which are rarer and difficult to extract from the tissues. But embryonic stem cells too are difficult to obtain because that would mean destroying an embryo which is controversial.

But now scientists have found a better way when it comes to stem cells.

The Search for Answers

Shinya Yamanaka found that specialized cells can be reverted back into stem cells back in 2006. A scientist and doctor in Kyoto University persuaded mature cells to revert to stem cells. By inserting genes of a specific set, the cells became like embryonic cells where it is called induced pluripotent stem cells.

This discovery made way for great possibilities over adult and embryonic stem cells like – It is easier to harvest as starter cell type can be used, it can become any type of cell like embryonic cell, and can treat patients using their own tissues. This means that would match the patient genetically and would not be rejected by the body.

Yamanaka’s research is now being used by scientists all over the world as a guide to create their own procedure of induced pluripotent stem cell. This research gave way to many possibilities like learning how certain cell types die, or allow small batches of these cells to be exposed to medicine where different types of drugs can now be tested safely.

Therapies Take Patience and Patients

Anne Cherry from Harvard uses stem cells to study the rare genetic disease Pearson syndrome where the bone marrow stem cells can’t make red blood cells which results in early death to sufferers.

Cherry started by using skin cells taken from a girl with the disease and turning them into stem cells by adding genes. The cells later on started to behave like embryonic stem cells as planned. She is now trying to persuade the stem cells to turn into blood cells, then learn how the disease Pearson syndrome kills these cells.

Cherry’s goal is to create healthy blood stem cells from the donated skin cells, and return it to the donor’s body to return her to normal and dismiss the need for blood transfusions. These will also be safe as the cells were taken from the donor which means there is no risk of her body rejecting the new cells as it came from her.

Sight for Sore Eyes

Neuroscientist Iqbal Ahmad from University of Nebraska Medical Center is studying how to use stem cells to restore eyesight to people who lost them to glaucoma.

Ahmad is working on a solution to place new retina cells from induced pluripotent stem cells in the eye to replace the dead ones. He starts by taking adult stem cells from the cornea that covers the front of the eyes and coax them to transform into nerve cells. He places the cornea cell beside an embryonic stem cell separated only by a mesh-like membrane where the cells can still communicate. Cells send signals to one another where other cells respond. The procedure overtime will turn the cornea cell into different types of cells like nerve cells.

The team of Ahmad used this procedure on lab mice that lost their sight to glaucoma. The nerve cells migrated to the retina which replaced the dead nerve cells. This proves that the procedure can in the future help restore sight.

Another Approach

Not all procedures require the use of stem cells and only require the chemical communication from cell to cell.
Nick Jeffrey, a veterinary neurologist from University of Cambridge, England, used cells harvested from the back of the nose of dogs to help repair damaged spinal cord connections.

When the spinal cord is damage or severed, it can lead to inability to move, paralysis and loss of sensation.

Jeffrey believes that stem cells are to replace missing cells, where as in spinal cord injuries, it is more of the nerve being severed.

Nerves called axons run along the spine, and when this is damaged, the axons can be cut or severed. This is where the research of Jeffrey comes in, where they remove cells from sinuses of dogs, where these particular cells encourage nerve cells to grow new axons.

They then grow these cells in their lab to create a large enough batch that can be injected into the spinal cord of the dogs. This procedure is monitored for several months where the dogs are returned to the lab to be tested out on a treadmill. The results showed that the procedure helped the dogs improve over time; but it’s still not a perfect cure as the nerves didn’t reconnect with the brain. It reconnected only several portions of the spine.

These developments in the study of stem cells indicate a bright medical future just a few years from now.


Gilbert RogersOctober 4, 2018
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5min13

Post-Plastic Surgery Care: Guide to a Healthy, Balanced Diet

All patients should relax, and take extra care of themselves after a cosmetic treatment or surgery.

Whether it is facial rejuvenation, facial plastic surgery procedures or body contouring surgery, you would need ample time to relax and rest.

Give your body time to heal properly. Proper healing simply means giving your body its much-needed chance to mend itself. To make sure that your journey towards recovery is going well, you need to have a proper diet.

Need help in choosing the right food items? Here is a quick guide.

Vegetables

Cooked and fresh vegetables will forever be parts of a healthy, balanced diet. These are excellent sources of important fibers, vitamins and minerals.

Make sure to include carrots, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, cauliflower and other leafy greens in your grocery list. Eating vegetables is an important decision that can lead not just towards proper post-surgery care, but also towards healthy, long lasting wellness.

Plenty of Water

Whether or not you are recovering from a cosmetic procedure, water is extremely important. Hydration plays a major part in flushing out the toxins in our body. It can help your body function well. Without adequate water, the recovery and healing process would slow down.

Avoid alcoholic beverages, highly caffeinated beverages, as well as drinks with excessive sugar and artificial sweeteners.

Fresh Fruits

Fruits are important for good living and healthy healing. It is a crucial immune system booster, and can satisfy your sweet tooth without putting on extra calories.
Why not eat a lot of citrus fruits? These are amazing sources of vitamin C. You can also add raspberries, blueberries, cherries and pomegranates in your diet, since these carry antioxidants that can help you fight infection.

Papayas and pineapples, on the other hand, reduce inflammation through enzymes.

Lean Protein

Every patient needs protein to heal skin and muscles. After your treatment, you should look for great sources of lean protein to help your body recover. Consider eating lots of pork, fish, seafood and chicken. Avoid red meat, though.

If you are a vegetarian, you can turn to lentils, seitan, beans, tofu and tempeh. Another option are protein supplement shakes.

Yogurts and Other Probiotic Drinks

Yogurts and other probiotic drinks have crucial health benefits. Always eat yogurt as a dessert or as a snack. If you want, you can add fruits!

Fiber

Increase your fiber intake to help your body process foods, and pass them through your body properly. Always remember that regular bowel movement is crucial for healing, and fiber can help you achieve that.

Excellent sources of protein and fiber? Legumes and beans. If you need your digestive system to function properly, eat whole grains, apples, oats and pears.

Food items to avoid? Don’t purchase those heavily sugared yogurts you can find at grocery stores. It contains excess calories. It is always best to settle with Greek yogurt. Just add fruits and some honey.

Seeds and Nuts

Nuts and seeds may be small food items, but they are strong sources of zinc and protein. These are perfect post-surgery snacks, but remember to always eat them in moderation.

Vitamin Supplements

Taking a vitamin supplements is also a great, healthy idea, most especially if you have dietary needs. It is important to discuss this with your plastic surgeon prior to the surgery. Never forget to ask for his or her guidance, since some vitamin supplements trigger more complicated side effects.

 



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