Lege Artis Medicinae

[About stem cells]

PAPP Csaba

MAY 20, 2010

Lege Artis Medicinae - 2010;20(05)

[Stem cells are special cells of an organism that are capable to continuously renew themselves and, triggered by environmental effects, to differentiate and produce cells suitable for various functions. Due to their special characteristics, stem cells have an exciting potential to fulfil an old dream of physicians: to replace and regenerate damaged cells and tissues. Regenerative medicine has undoubtedly opened new vistas in medicine and provides hope for those with yet uncurable diseases. Here, we briefly describe different kinds of stem cells and their sources and discuss some of their experimental or clinical applications. Besides the bone marrow, which is now considered a traditional stem cell source, we present alternative sources. Among these, we pay special attention to the two stemcell sources that are important for obstetricians and gynaecologists: the umbilical cord (Wharton’s jelly) and the characteristics of the umbilical cord blood. We discuss some aspects of the storage of cord blood (”stem cell banking“) its potential use. Obstetricians and gynaecologists have an important role and a great responsibility in promoting the collection and, if necessary, the use of these stem cells. Communicating with patients and informing them about the their possible therapeutic applications stem cells is a part of this process as well as obtaining cord blood and preserving a segment of the cord. Obstetricians and gynaecologists should help to save as much as possible the umbilical cord and cord blood, which become ”redundant“ after birth but are a great source of multipotent mesenchymal and haemopoietic stem cells, which can be used in various fields of 21st-century medicine.]



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[Haemophilia is the most well-known inherited bleeding disorder, which has an X-linked inheritance and affects men. Its severity is classified on the basis of the amount of circulating functional clotting factors: patients with values < 1% have severe disease, those with values of 1-5% have moderate disease, and those with values >5% are classified as having mild disease. Severe haemophilia is characterised by frequent, spontaneous bleeding episodes, whereas in those with moderate or mild haemophilia, bleeding is only caused by trauma or surgery. Although bleeding can occur almost anywhere, the most common clinical manifestation is haemarthrosis. Haemophilic arthrpathy that develops as a result of repeated episodes of joint haemorrhage is the most important factor of morbidity in those with haemophilia. Intravenous replacement of the missing clotting factor is used to treat and prevent bleeding episodes. Controlled therapy at home that provides immediate replacement is the optimal early approach. Prophylaxis includes administration of clotting factors at regular intervals to prevent bleeding, which must be the main goal of management until a cure becomes available. The development of inhibitors during treatment is the most significant complication of factor replacement, and management of bleeding in patients with such inhibitors is difficult.]

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