Degenerative diseases are devastating -- for people living with the disease(s) as well as their loved ones. Some of the most common degenerative diseases include Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Currently there isn’t a cure for any of the aforementioned diseases, which is precisely why -- in addition to the disease symptoms themselves -- the prognosis is so devastating.
While there is currently no cure for these diseases, there is hope that symptoms can be slowed via stem cell therapy. Stem cell therapy is becoming increasingly common for a variety of uses: disease prevention, disease deceleration, and disease curing. While the latter isn’t yet possible for degenerative diseases, there is research showing that it is possible to decelerate degenerative diseases via the therapeutic deployment of stem cells.
Stem Cell Research & Trials
For over 10 years, pre-clinical and clinical trials have utilized bone marrow stem cells in the treatment of chronic degenerative diseases. As the use cases grow, so does the confirmation that stem cells can in fact slow the progression of degenerative diseases. Thanks to stem cell therapies, there is the ability to reproduce human tissues and, in some cases, repair organs that have been damaged. This is incredible, as it gives brains and spinal cords damaged by degenerative disease a chance to function better and delay disease progression. In addition to potentially repairing damaged organs, stem cell treatments can also substitute lost neurons while the stem cells act as immunomodulators and neuroprotectors.
Although we are referencing stem cell treatment for degenerative diseases, it’s important to note that all degenerative diseases aren’t created equal. Thus, the severity of current and future disability must be considered when choosing a treatment route.
People with Parkinson's disease have a relatively normal life expectancy. From a therapeutic perspective, there are multiple drugs that assist during the first few years of degeneration, and there are even treatment options once the disease has advanced.
People with Lou Gehrig’s disease, on the other hand, experience rapidly advancing symptoms with no effective treatment option. The disease is fatal, and the lifespan for people with Lou Gehrig’s is shorter than the average lifespan.
Those are just two examples of how varied the symptoms, treatments, and prognoses are different for each degenerative disease. However, that’s exactly why stem cell treatment for degenerative diseases is both appealing and promising. The ability to refine a technique that can slow symptom progression for these diseases offers hope to a category of diseases that often seems hopeless.
Fighting Degenerative Diseases
As of now, the primary source of care for degenerative diseases is reactive, supportive care that treats the degenerative disease as it progresses. However, the stem cell field is working on proactive strategies -- that way further degeneration can not just be treated, but slowed in the process. People with multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimers, and Parkinson’s disease can find hope in the prior success and continued research about slowing degenerative diseases and ensuring that as much function as possible can remain with those affected.
As previously mentioned, the quantity and frequency of clinical trials for degenerative disease stem cell treatment is steadily increasing, and it’s a treatment option worth exploring if you or a loved one is experiencing a degenerative disease. After all, everyone deserves the highest quality of life possible. With any treatment that you or someone you know may pursue, research is everything. Stay informed about not only the benefits, but the risks as well. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask the treatment center with which you are planning to work.