Letter: Adult stem cells can change the healthcare landscape | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Adult stem cells can change the healthcare landscape

Adult stem cells can change the health care landscape

A recent Colorado political advertisement highlighting a candidate's stance on stem cell research shows the issue is still at the forefront of public consciousness. Part of what makes stem cell research such a hot-button issue is the number of persistent myths that propagate many of the heated emotions surrounding the topic.

Much of the stem cell controversy comes from the fact many people only know of embryonic stem cells, which are generated from fertilized, frozen eggs at in-vitro fertilization centers. These are not the only type of stem cells. Other types include umbilical cord blood and adult stem cells.

Umbilical cord blood is extracted from birth and preserved for the future benefit of the child. While this type of stem cell technique is safe and it is becoming commonplace to store the cells, there is currently no way to utilize these cells beyond compassionate-care cases, which are few and far between. However, adult stem cells are currently in clinical use today and are easily and safely harvested from the patient's fat and bone marrow reserves. The adult stem cells can be utilized for a variety of treatment options, which include joint, ligament and tendon injuries, back pain and autoimmune diseases.

Polls indicate a shifting paradigm in how people view stem cell use and research. A Pew Research survey conducted in 2013 revealed only 16 percent believed non-embryonic stem cell research was immoral. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI recently gave his approval on adult stem cell research, saying, "I pray that your commitment to adult stem cell research will bring great blessings for the future of man and genuine enrichment to his culture."

Those with an understanding of adult stem cells know there is no controversy, as they do not require the harming of an embryo. While progress in the realm of public opinion is being made, regulatory and administrative difficulties are still hampering medical innovation according to some health care experts.

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Adult stem cells hold great promise for the future of medicine because of their potential to improve cartilage health, repair lumbar discs and slow progression of autoimmune diseases. The ability to utilize stem cells from one's own body to safely and naturally heal itself from many different ailments is beginning to revolutionize health care.

With more public support and cooperative regulatory policies, adult stem cells have the potential to forever change the health care landscape as profoundly as the mark antibiotics made on medicine.

Dr. Scott Brandt

ThriveMD Aspen