As you may already know, stem cells are useful for many things, but they are also incredibly useful for muscle repair. Large swaths of the population could benefit from the treatment. Professional athletes, those suffering from muscle diseases, and the elderly may one day look to stem cells for a solid muscle repair strategy.
Naturally, myocytes, also known as muscle cells, are supposed to repair the damage inflicted on our muscles when we’re injured. However, your body’s store naturally starts to declines as we age. This is why regenerative ability is often times associated with youth. As a result, researchers have devoted a lot of time and effort to figuring out if muscle stem cells could be helpful in reversing damage to our muscles, especially if we have them in excess.
The evidence is very encouraging, although most studies haven’t reached the phase of human trials. If stem cell therapy proves to be effective, then countless lives could be radically changed. The medical community is interested in multiple facets of what stem cells could possibly do and now the general public is too. There’s hope that in addition to repairing damaged muscles, stem cells might be able to even replace missing muscles.
Overall, some studies show that muscle stem cells are positively associated with muscle regeneration and repair. They normally represent around 5 to 7 percent of the muscle’s total cells. They’re activated when your cells signal that they’re injured.
Research on Stem Cells and Muscle Repair
Because of the desperate need for medical relief, a decent amount of studies have looked into the effect of stem cells on muscle repairs. Getting older puts quite a bit of stress on your body. If science could learn how to reverse the effects, human life would be transformed.
One 2016 study found that mice bodies were able to support significantly more stem cells than researchers thought was possible. The excess stem cells proved to be valuable. Muscles are repaired faster when there are more stem cells to do the work.
That’s far from the only exciting research available. In 2018, researchers from Duke University created fully functioning human muscles using pluripotent stem cells. If the progress continues successfully, it could lead to the development of life-changing therapies.
“Starting with pluripotent stem cells that are not muscle cells, but can become all existing cells in our body, allows us to grow an unlimited number of myogenic progenitor cells,” professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University Nenad Bursac said. “These progenitor cells resemble adult muscle stem cells called ‘satellite cells’ that can theoretically grow an entire muscle starting from a single cell.”
The lab-grown muscles are far from perfect. They have more important stem cells but they’re weaker than natural muscles.
Who Might Benefit
Stem cells are celebrated for their potential. Most of that potential, however still hasn’t been realized. Scientists are still searching for a way to work out the kinks.
Stanford neurologist Thomas Rando, explained that the terrible wounds experienced by combat veterans are notoriously difficult to treat. He noted that: “We haven’t been able to do much to encourage regrowth of the missing muscle. Injecting muscle stem cells doesn’t work because they don’t function well in a vacuum.”
If scientists are able to advance stem cell therapy so that it’s more useful for human patients, it would be beneficial for countless people. You may never be sick, and you might never be a serious athlete, but at some point, you will be elderly. Members of the older community care about muscle regrowth strategies because their own muscles are becoming weaker and losing their ability to regrow.
Even if stem cell therapy didn’t extend life, it could greatly improve the quality of life among the elderly.
In addition to the elderly, people suffering from certain diseases and intense athletes could also benefit from stem cell treatments that trigger muscle regrowth.
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What Are the Advantages?
Scientists are focusing on stem cell because the treatments offer huge benefits over traditional therapy options.
Stem cell therapy is a minimally invasive procedure compared to traditional surgery. This puts your body at less risk. Surgery is dangerous no matter how routine the procedure might be. In addition to eliminating pre-surgical risks, stem cell therapy also dramatically reduces patients’ recovery time. This allows them to quickly and easily return to their normal lives.
Using stem cells can also slash the patient’s risk of rejection. Adult stem cells are harvested from the patient’s own body.
Because there are fewer risks of complications, stem cell therapy can be cost-effective. The procedures are performed on an out-patient basis and patients can quickly return to their normal lives. There’s no need to take a lot of time off of work.
What are the Disadvantages?
Most stem cell treatments are still in the experimental phase. That means that patients have to make decisions about their care with less information than they normally have. Your doctor can’t really tell how your experimental therapy will work.
Of course, experimental does not mean that it won’t work. The Food and Drug Administration has a rigorous set of standards that must be met before a medication or treatment plan wins their sanction. The process is costly and time-consuming. Many experimental treatments will eventually be officially introduced to the market.
There are also disadvantages inherent to the type of stem cells that are used. Fetal stem cells might be rejected from the patient’s body. That’s because the body is trained to seek out and destroy foreign tissue.
When adult stem cells are used, the patient suddenly runs the risk of developing a tumor. Neither option is perfect.
Is Stem Cell Therapy Appropriate for You?
Stem cell therapy treatment might be able to help you if you’re suffering from muscle degeneration. There are no guarantees, however. The government has only officially approved a few treatments based on stem cell therapy.
If you choose to go this route, you need to have reasonable expectations. Stem cell therapy represents an exciting new field in the world of muscle repair treatments. But the kinks are still being smoothed out.
Most major metropolitan cities in the West have stem cell treatment centers or plans to open one. Many, many people use stem cells as supplemental therapy.
The potential benefits of stem cells for patients afflicted with muscle degeneration are huge. However, before making any decision about your own medical care, you need to speak to a doctor. The treatments are still experimental and not suitable for every patient.
The field is still growing. Researchers are still figuring out the details of how to effectively use stem cells. That means that it’s okay to have hope but be careful of falling into the trap of thinking of stem cells as a miracle cure. They’re not.
If you’re interested in keeping up with the medical research, you can try searching for studies online or speaking with your physician. A new development could be discovered any day.
The medical community is very interested in stem cells. There is a mountain of research and studies for you to dig through if you’re searching for answers. Until science has a definitive answer, patients who need heightened muscle repair will have to stick with experimental treatments if they’re interested in stem cells.
You can find trial studies online if you’re interested. Make sure to properly vet the company before you agree to participate in an experiment. It should be easy to check if a study is truly funded by the government, a university, or another reputable body.