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Stem Cell Therapy

In growing numbers, people are taking their autistic children to “clinics” - in Costa Rica, in Germany, in Russia...

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DMSA

The study began with 82 autistic children, ages 3 - 8 years, who underwent a physical examination, blood tests for kidney...

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Behavioral Testing

In the behavioral testing, only the ADOS (which - as I mentioned before - is not valid for comparing autism severity) showed...

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OUR EVENTS

DON'T MISS OUR EVENTS

22
Dec

CHRISTMAS PARTY

New York, Times Square
9:00 To 14:00
12/22/2017

Some of our little people with autism, and some big ones, too, have sensory sensitivities that can get in the way of all the Christmas fun you are planning this year. With just a little extra effort you can ensure your Christmas party games and get-togethers are suitable for all of your guests.

2
Apr

Autism Awareness Day

Scottsdale, Arizona
8:00 To 15:00
April 2, 2018

The annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2018. Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events.

29
Jan

SCHOOL PARTY

Brooklyn, NY
8:00 To 16:00
01/29/2018

Socialising and going to parties helps children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) practise communication and social skills.

9
Feb

European Days of Autism

Fresno, CA
9:00 To 14:00
February 9, 2018

Each year, Autism-Europe organises the European Days of Autism in order to raise awareness of Autism across the European Union.

OUR NEWS

FOLLOW OUR MOST IMPORTANT NEWS

The health benefits of the little known kratom herb

Not much is known about the natural herb Kratom.  Although it isn’t on may people’s radar, there are lots of benefits to be had from this leaf.  Taken in the proper dosage, kratom is able to aid in the recovery and relief of many ailments.  In this article, we’ll go over some of the main ...

Read More

Analyzing the Most Effective Ways to Treat Addiction

There are millions of people that are suffering from different kinds of addictions in different parts of the world. The smoking and drug addiction are the most common types of addiction. The health experts have organized several ways of getting rid of the addiction but only a few of them have proved to be really ...

Read More

How Autistic Kids Can Benefit from Outdoor Activities Like Longboarding?

Autism is a severe disease that has already caused a lot of harm to the kids all around the world. And it’s continuously putting the kids into a lot of trouble. There are many reasons behind this issue but most of the times, the genetical issues promote this disease among the kids. Similarly, the activities ...

Read More

Anti-Viral Nonsense

There are some “alt-med” treatments for autism that are like the zombies in B-grade horror movies. You think they’re dead, but as soon as you turn your back, they’re up and shambling around, searching for…..well, they’re usually looking for money, so they don’t fit the zombie analogy that well. Chelation, secretin and HBOT have all ...

Read More

Stem Cell Therapy for Autism

Sorry to have been gone for so long, but I wanted to take extra time on this topic because….well, because it needs extra time and attention to detail. In growing numbers, people are taking their autistic children to “clinics” – in Costa Rica, in Germany, in Russia – to get “stem cell” injections. I put ...

Read More

The pros and cons of probiotics and whether you should take them or not

The probiotics business has expanded very fast in the past few year and it is continuously growing. There are several supplements (gums, powders, capsules, lozenges, and tablets) and foods that are used as the probiotics. These products contain the good amount of bacteria in them that is beneficial for our health. The purpose of these ...

Read More

6 Ways to improve mental clarity and performance

It is a common concept that our brain starts getting dull and slow as we grow old but some studies have shown that our mind is structured in such a beautiful way that we can easily improve its performance at any age. The problem why elder people can’t memorize things like teenagers is that they ...

Read More

Recent Medical Studies and Findings on the Cervical Spine

The cervical spine is a part of our body that seems mysterious for most people who are not medically educated. To put it bluntly, it’s one of those crucial elements of the body which controls our movements and causes so much pain when neglected. Due to our work habits – sitting too long or standing ...

Read More

The Healthiest Green Tea: Taking a Look at This Powerful Herb

The taste of the green tea may differ depending on the preferences of the person that is going to drink this tea. However, the green tea is available in several different forms. Some of them are healthier than others. But a common person cannot understand that which type of green tea can provide him more ...

Read More

Therapy and Treatments Older Women with Autism Might Need

The autism is a disease that is commonly found in the kids but some incidents have shown that women over 50 can also suffer from autism. The treatment for adults is different than the kids because there is a great difference between the cells and the muscles. Therefore, the experts suggest a different treatment for ...

Read More

Your Guide to Insurance if You’re Struggling With Health Issues

Flu, fever or other common health issues aren’t going to put an impact on your health insurance selection. But there are some critical health issues that can put an impact and make it difficult for you to find your desired option. Mostly, insurance companies avoid selling insurance plans to the people that are suffering from ...

Read More

OUR BLOGS

How Autistic Kids Can Benefit from Outdoor Activities Like Longboarding?

Autism is a severe disease that has already caused a lot of harm to the kids all around the world. And it’s continuously putting the kids into a lot of trouble. There are many reasons behind this issue but most of the times, the genetical issues promote this disease among the kids. Similarly, the activities that a mother performs during the pregnancy can also cause a lot of harm to the kids. There are tons of other problems that can promote this disease among the kids. Therefore, the parents should try to avoid the activities that can cause harm to their kids because overcoming this disease is quite harmful and the kids go through a painful procedure while overcoming this disease.

In this situation, the pain does not only cause some harm to the kids but the parents also go through a lot of pain. Therefore, the factors that are promoting this disease should be stopped. However, if this disease has already affected your child and you need a solution to this problem, you must take some time to read the following information. We hope that will help a lot in reducing the pain and your child would be able to recover from this disease.

We believe that there are some outdoor activities that can protect your child from further damage. Here is the information about how some particular outdoor activities can protect your kids from Autism.

Mind development

When your kids are engaged in different fun activities, their mind remains active all the time and it helps them develop their mental skills over time. As a result, their mind starts getting strong and they are completely prepared to fight against the disease that is causing them a lot of harm. The outdoor activities will not only protect your kids from Austims but they will also provide them protection against several other diseases. So, you must keep them engaged in different outdoor activities.

Instant recovery

The autistic kids feel very awkward when they spend most of the time in their home. And they do not feel any good when their parents prevent them from playing outside. You should try to motivate them and take them out with you so that they may get engaged in different fun activities. In fact, you should buy a scooter for yourself so that you may also join them while they are having some fun. Make sure that you take a look at the best adult scooters guide so that you may spend a very good time with your kids while they are playing outside. Thus, they would recover faster and they would never suffer from any other mental diseases in future.

Peace and comfort

The peace and comfort are very important for autistic kids. Some parents believe that the peace can only be found at home. But the truth is that the kids feel comfortable when they get to spend a marvellous time with other kids. Click here and find some interesting information about how autism can be treated naturally.

Your Guide to Insurance if You’re Struggling With Health Issues

Flu, fever or other common health issues aren’t going to put an impact on your health insurance selection. But there are some critical health issues that can put an impact and make it difficult for you to find your desired option. Mostly, insurance companies avoid selling insurance plans to the people that are suffering from health issues because they consider it to be risky for their business. Click Here and find some effective tips to buy an insurance plan if you are struggling with health issues.

However, sometimes these insurance companies agree to accept the request under different circumstances. But most of the people do not know anything about it and they become anxious that they’d never be able to buy an insurance policy to secure their family. Thus, they spend their entire life in complete distress. The truth is that these affected people can also find a life insurance for them.

In some situations, the guaranteed life insurance is costly for these affected people but they can reduce the price by following a few important tips. We have produced a brief guide for these people so that they can find the best insurance plan according to their current health situation. You won’t have to be worried about buying an insurance plan after reading these tips. Here are the tips you should follow if you are struggling with health issues.

Get it diagnosed

The first thing you can do here is to get the problem diagnosed by the expert doctors. There is a solution available for every problem. So, you should look for the right solution and get your problem diagnosed as soon as possible. Once the problem is diagnosed, you won’t face any problem in getting approved for any kind of insurance plan.

Sometimes, you may find some difficulty in getting an approval because the insurance companies check your previous history. But you’d still get approved for your desired insurance plan once they get to know that the problem is properly diagnosed and there are no signs left behind.

Costly options

Some insurance companies agree to approve your application on the conditions that they will charge you a bit extra as compared to others. In this situation, some people avoid buying the life insurance while others start looking for different options so that they can find the most cost-effective solution for their problem. Most of the times, they succeed in finding the insurance plan that suits their budget.

So, you must also start looking for different options in order to find the best option. Thus, you won’t have to waste any money on buying a life insurance plan. Here are some other tips to find an insurance plan if you are struggling with health issues.

Therapy and Treatments Older Women with Autism Might Need

The autism is a disease that is commonly found in the kids but some incidents have shown that women over 50 can also suffer from autism. The treatment for adults is different than the kids because there is a great difference between the cells and the muscles. Therefore, the experts suggest a different treatment for older women when they start suffering from autism.

This disease does not cause a lot of trouble in the initial step. However, if it isn’t treated accordingly, it may cause you a lot of trouble over time. If you are looking to find the perfect treatment and therapy for your problem, you must contact your family doctor because they better understand the nature of different parts of your body. They can predict that how your body would behave after receiving a particular kind of treatment.

Thus, they can suggest you the most effective treatment according to your health. The main focus of the doctors is to improve your overall ability when they are suggesting a treatment for autism. In this article, we are going to talk about some therapies and treatments that can gradually reduce the effects of autism in older women.

Some treatments may appear to be expensive but they are extremely effective and you should go for them if you can afford them. Here are the treatments and therapies that can help reduce the effects of autism in older women.

Behavioral Training and management

The positive reinforcement, social skills training, and self-help are the techniques that are used in this therapy to improve the communication and behavior. There are many treatments that are included in the behavioral training and management.

Specialized therapies

The physical, occupational, and speech therapies are included in this category. When it comes to managing autism, these therapies are considered to be most effective. The social skills can be improved with the help of speech therapy so, these women may not feel any trouble when communicating with others. The deficiencies in motor and coordination skills can be improved with the help of physical and occupational therapy.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

The hormone replacement therapy is the latest way of treating autism in older women. This therapy changes the way how hormones behave in your body. Some types of the hormone replacement therapy can completely change the hormones that are found in your body while the others are supposed to improve the quality of the hormones that travel in your body.

Medicines

Hyperactivity, anxiety, and depression are some common issues that are boosted due to autism. So, these issues can easily be treated with the help of the right medicine. However, you should not try self-medication and always take help from the expert doctors. Here are some other treatments and therapies that older women with Autism might need.

Analyzing the Most Effective Ways to Treat Addiction

There are millions of people that are suffering from different kinds of addictions in different parts of the world. The smoking and drug addiction are the most common types of addiction. The health experts have organized several ways of getting rid of the addiction but only a few of them have proved to be really effective.

In this article, we will talk about the most effective ways that can help treat the addiction. The addiction doesn’t only affect the life of the addict but it also puts a severe impact on the lives of other people that belong to the addict. The addicted person usually does not pay any attention to his family and he spends more time and energy on consuming the substance.

Social relationships, mental health, physical health and the employment are the factors that can be affected if a person is addicted to a substance. Therefore, the treatment of this problem is extremely important otherwise, it will not only affect the life of the addict but the lives of his family members and colleagues as well. Here are the most effective ways if you want to treat addiction.

Detox

Most of the people use this method when they start their journey of treating addiction. During this process, the addict remains under the inspection of the medical staff where the substance is gradually removed from his body. Sometimes, the medical officials may also prescribe some medications to maintain the comfort.

Group support

Group support is a really effective way where individuals help each other get rid of this problem. They help each other stay motivated to continue their journey of quitting the addiction. Although it is an informal style treatment, it still proves to be really effective when it comes to treating addiction.

There are several meetings organized during this treatment where different people come to describe their story of treating addiction. However, relying on this treatment merely cannot help you at all. You need to use another treatment in conjunction with the group support if you want to see some significant results.

Addiction treatment centers

There are many addiction treatment centers in different parts of the world that offer treatment for the addiction in different ways. There are many addicts that have taken control of their addiction with the help of these treatment centers. For example, Miami Florida addiction treatment center is one of the most famous treatment centers where thousands of addicts come every year to get rid of this problem.

Psychotherapy

The psychotherapy is also an effective way of treating this issue. The psychologist carefully analyzes the mental state of the addict and then starts treating the problem gradually. This process is very slow as compared to other treatments but it generates the long-term results and helps you treat all kinds of addiction. Here are some other ways of treating addiction.

The Healthiest Green Tea: Taking a Look at This Powerful Herb

The taste of the green tea may differ depending on the preferences of the person that is going to drink this tea. However, the green tea is available in several different forms. Some of them are healthier than others. But a common person cannot understand that which type of green tea can provide him more health benefits as compared to the others.

When it comes to choosing the healthiest green tea, there are several important elements that you need to look for such as potential contamination with heavy metals and pesticide residues and the antioxidant content. If you are not familiar with the benefits that you can obtain from a particular type of tea, you must increase your knowledge about it otherwise, you won’t be able to make the right decision.

If you don’t want to make any effort and still want the best option available, then you must consider buying the Srilankan or Japanese brewed green tea. In this article, we are going to share some information about different types of green teas that will help you find the healthiest green tea. We have gathered the information about the most common types of green tea.

Here is some information about different types of green teas that you can use to find the perfect option.

Brewed versus bottled

If you need our recommendation, we recommend that you must choose the brewed tea over the bottled tea because brewed tea contains the more beneficial antioxidants as compared to the bottled tea. The polyphenol is the most important element that is found in the green tea and you’d be shocked to hear that the amount of polyphenols in brewed tea is 20 times more than the bottled tea. The amount of antioxidant content is reduced in the bottled green tea due to the processing method that is used to prepare this tea.

Country of origin

The amount of heavy metals such as aluminum, cadmium, arsenic, and lead is found in some types of the green teas. The higher amounts of lead, cadmium, and aluminum are found in the organic green teas as compared to the regular green tea. However, the amount of arsenic is not much higher in the organic green teas. The Chinese green tea is not recommended as it contains a high amount of aluminum.

The organic Green tea from Sri Lanka is considered to be the best as it contains a very low amount of heavy metals.

Organic Versus Conventional

The organic green teas are the perfect option for you if you want to stay safe from the increased amount of pesticide residues. The organic are the ones that are not grown with the help of the pesticides. However, this may not a big issue because most types of green teas do not have the higher amount of pesticide residues in them except the ones that are allowed by either Japan or the European Union.

The health benefits of the little known kratom herb

Not much is known about the natural herb Kratom.  Although it isn’t on may people’s radar, there are lots of benefits to be had from this leaf.  Taken in the proper dosage, kratom is able to aid in the recovery and relief of many ailments.  In this article, we’ll go over some of the main benefits that kratom is known for.  So, without further ado, these are some of the health benefits that Kratom brings:

  1. Pain relief

Before anyone knew Kratom, it began as herbal medicine whose main purpose is to alleviate the pain used by Southeast Asian natives. Kratom can relieve any type and severity of body aches, and long-term users simply chew their leaves or pulverize them to mix with the drinks. Simple headaches, muscle aches and the like can be relieved by the use of this plant.

  1. Fibromyalgia and other diseases

Those who suffer from fibromyalgia have great pain, and since Kratom’s main task is to relieve pain, it is the perfect herbal medicine to relieve muscle numbness and inflammation. In addition to fibromyalgia, kratom can also cause pain from other diseases that cause chronic pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

  1. Digestive and intestinal problems

Kratom is also known to help in the treatment of problems related to the digestive system, especially diarrhea and constipation. Irritable bowel syndrome or even severe cases of dysentery can be helped with the use of kratom when taken in its powder form (buy Best Kratom’s powder here). It is also known to be good for the kidneys, although there are still some formal studies on it Long-term kratom users, particularly from Southeast Asia, have said they have a healthy kidney because they no longer use drugs that contain multiple chemicals.

  1. Help diabetics

Although it does not treat diabetes directly, kratom can help a patient who has it to be safer due to its effects. One of the known effects of kratom is pain relief and relaxation, and these are important for those with diabetes, as they have to deal with pain and blood sugar levels. If you deviate from pain and stress, your blood sugar level would remain at a safe level. As a stimulant, Kratom can also help improve the flow of glucose and other nutrients that are released to the user’s muscle tissue.

  1. Immune system, metabolism and energy reinforcement

Kratom contains alkaloids that are known to be very useful for strengthening the immune system. This claim is still under investigation to further demonstrate its effectiveness in this area Many users claim to be less susceptible to diseases with regular use of kratom.

It is also known as a great power booster that has been tested and tested by workers, especially in Thailand, because they have used the plant for a long time to increase their energy and improve their work. Many users have also indicated that their metabolism improves with the use of kratom, so they eat more every day.

  1. Cure addiction

One of the great things about Kratom is it is great for helping to cure addictions.  It does this by stopping cravings that addicts tend to have when it comes to drugs.  Along with that, kratom also helps with withdrawals and alleviates some of the pain that drug addicts usually have when coming off of drugs.

  1. Remedies Depression and anxiety

Taken in small doses, kratom is very beneficial when it comes to depression and anxiety.  It helps to boost the mood of subjects that take it and make them feel better overall.

So, as you can see, there are many health benefits associated with kratom.  If taken responsibly and in the right dosage, kratom can be used in a variety of ways depending on what the patient is suffering from.

Recent Medical Studies and Findings on the Cervical Spine

The cervical spine is a part of our body that seems mysterious for most people who are not medically educated. To put it bluntly, it’s one of those crucial elements of the body which controls our movements and causes so much pain when neglected. Due to our work habits – sitting too long or standing too long in one pose – cervical spine suffers from the pressure we put on it. And that’s when all the neck pain problems start to happen.

The best way to prevent the cervical spine issues is to consult a credible site with Cervical Spine Guide and Health Information. In the meantime, here’s the sum up from the recent medical studies and findings on the cervical spine.

 

Common cervical spine conditions

Since the cervical spine connects the neck (the base of the skull) and the upper back, there is a reason to believe that the conditions which start with recurrent neck pain are more severe than we think. Although the seven vertebral segments that constitute the cervical spine are flexible – which allows the neck to move – the constant pressure on this part of the spine can lead to permanent medical conditions. Some of them include scoliosis, spondylosis, and other types of neck or degenerative joint diseases.

What causes the cervical spine problems

The poor posture can put additional pressure on this part of the spine. Keeping your neck too low when sitting down can slowly damage the order of cervical vertebrae, which often results in chronic pain. The pain can be located in the neck, in the arms, or alongside the spine. If not treated on time, it can lead to damaging your nerve system and causing your problems with your sleep, focus, concentration, etc.

The key to discovering cervical spine problems is through a detailed medical evaluation of patient’s condition. After establishing the symptoms such as a headache, pain in the neck or upper back, numbness, etc. the physician should start the exam by investigating the structure of the neck and shoulder. It can be done manually, but for more in-depth evaluation it’s recommended to take a CTR or MRI.

 

Cervical spine treatments

The recent findings on the cervical spine were in part focused on developing the medical treatments that will effectively deal with the axial neck pain, radiculopathy, or myelopathy as the primary degenerative cervical spine disorders. The most beneficial treatments for neck pain issues are the non-operational treatments, according to the majority of patients that are experiencing severe neck pain problems.

Among those who are suffering from the cervical spine, conditions are people who are highly educated, who have a history of previous medical conditions that relate to the lower back or headaches, and who had a prior trauma or injury in this part of the body.

 

 

6 Ways to improve mental clarity and performance

It is a common concept that our brain starts getting dull and slow as we grow old but some studies have shown that our mind is structured in such a beautiful way that we can easily improve its performance at any age. The problem why elder people can’t memorize things like teenagers is that they do not regularly use their brain functions in the old age.

The brain functions will only work properly if you keep using them regularly. There are several ways of improving your mental clarity and performance that are being used in the scientific and medical world nowadays, which we will outline in this article.

Here are the 6 important ways that can help improve the mental clarity and performance:

Avoid chronic stress

The functionality of hormones is completely different from each other. Some hormones can negatively affect the performance of your brain with the passage of time. Cortisol is a hormone that starts releasing when you experience the chronic stress. The main function of this hormone is to help your brain stay safe from the life-threatening situations.

However, the number of brain cells can be decreased due to the higher levels of cortisol over a long period and this may lead to dull memory. You must avoid the chronic stress with things like meditation or omharmonics, as well as other useful techniques to maintain the performance of your brain.

Regular exercise

There are many exercises that can help improve your mental clarity and performance. You must make a habit of performing these exercises regularly if you want to improve the functionality of your brain cells.

Supplements

The experts have introduced several health supplements that can help improve the functionality of your brain muscles. We recommend that you must consider using the herbal supplements instead of other types of supplements because they do not have any side effects.

Taking proper sleep

Your sleeping routine can also affect the performance of your brain regularly. If you’re not taking enough sleep, your brain will start getting dull and old very quickly. A disturbed sleeping routine can also affect the brain cells badly. You must follow a proper sleeping routine to improve the performance of your brain cells.

Better diet

The science has proved that our regular diet plays an important in role in improving our health. And it doesn’t only help in improving the physical health but it also helps improve your mental health overtime. Therefore, you must consider eating the snacks that can help improve the performance of your brain cells in an effective way.

Fun activities

The fun activities can also help improve your mental performance. In our busy life, we do not get enough time to have some fun with friends and family. Our brain starts getting tired if we do not perform the fun activities regularly. Therefore, you must participate in several activities to improve the functionality of your brain.

The pros and cons of probiotics and whether you should take them or not

The probiotics business has expanded very fast in the past few year and it is continuously growing. There are several supplements (gums, powders, capsules, lozenges, and tablets) and foods that are used as the probiotics. These products contain the good amount of bacteria in them that is beneficial for our health. The purpose of these probiotics is to help in weight loss, strengthen immunity, improve digestion, and protect against periodontal disease.

There are many other amazing benefits of these probiotics that you’re going to enjoy once you start using them regularly. Taking a look at the nucific and bio x4 reviews helps you understand the importance of using these products. The proponents claim that these probiotics are used to rebalance the normal microflora in the large intestine, therefore, they are very good for your health.

The number of strains the probiotics contain is different in the different situations. Similarly, the number of organisms in a daily dose is also different from each other. Many manufacturers charge you a premium price by saying that their product contains a good amount of probiotics in it. In this article, we’re going to talk about the pros and cons of these probiotics so that you may make an informed decision that whether they’re good for you or not.

Helpful diversity

There is no doubt that the mother’s milk is extremely important for the babies as it helps them stay healthy. The recent research has shown that more than 600 types of good bacteria are found in the mother’s milk. The mother’s milk help improve the digestion in the stomach and it also helps strengthen the bones of the baby.

The good bacteria keep an eye on the harmful bacteria in our stomach. Additionally, the digestion and absorption of nutrients are some other key features of the good bacteria.

Healthy balance of stomach bacteria

You need to eat healthy and balanced food if you want to keep your stomach in a healthy position. Different useful bacteria are found in the different types of foods. Therefore, the balance of bacteria in our stomach can be affected by the age diabetes, obesity, genetics and poor diet. The good bacteria are also killed by the antibiotics that are used to kill harmful bacteria.

Foods like yogurt and yeast can help improve the number of bacteria in your stomach but unfortunately, there are some countries that do not use these foods as their regular diet. Such types of countries need to buy the probiotics from the pharmacy to maintain the number of bacteria in their body.

There are no harmful effects of probiotics but you should be very careful about choosing them because some probiotics are designed for some special condition. So, you must consult your doctor before making a final decision.

Stem Cell Therapy for Autism

Sorry to have been gone for so long, but I wanted to take extra time on this topic because….well, because it needs extra time and attention to detail.

In growing numbers, people are taking their autistic children to “clinics” – in Costa Rica, in Germany, in Russia – to get “stem cell” injections. I put “stem cell” inside inverted commas because it is not entirely clear that what these children are receiving are actual stem cells.

And that might be the “good news” in this post – more about that later.

Stem cells have been in the news a lot, especially the past year, since President Obama cleared the way for embryonic stem cell research. So, today, almost everybody above the age of three has heard of them – but how many people really know what they are and what they can (and can’t) do? Not so many, I think (based on what I’ve heard people say about stem cells).

 

What are stem cells?

Judging by the many and varied things that the lay press have said about stem cells, you might be forgiven for thinking that they are magical little beings that swim to the site of whatever medical problem exists and fix it – sort of like the “nano-machines” that periodically crop up in science fiction stories. However, sad to say, that isn’t the case.

Stem cells are nothing more than a type of cell that can differentiate (develop into) a different type of cell – sometimes many different types of cells (and can proliferate – divide – indefinitely). Far from being magical semi-sentient beings, they are quite prosaic and exist in your bone marrow, under your skin, in your brain – pretty much everywhere in your body. They range from the humble karatinocyte stem cell of your skin – which can only produce karatinocytes (the outer layer of your skin) – to the omnipotent stem cells present in the first few cell divisions after fertilization, which can each develop into a complete organism (see: “identical twins”).

What has some scientists excited about stem cells is the potential to use certain types of them to treat illnesses and injuries that are currently beyond our abilities. In a few cases, we have already seen these therapies work – in most cases, they remain tanalizingly out of reach.

There are a number of different types and degrees of stem cells, which complicates the discussion considerably. The cells of a zygote (fertilized egg) that is still in its first few cell divisions can each become a complete organism (as mentioned above), but before long (a few hours, in most cases), those cells have differentiated to the point where they can’t make an entire organism, but they can still produce cells of any tissue or organ of the body. Once they have “committed” to going down a particular developmental path, they cannot (usually) go back (without our “help”). Eventually, the differentiation process progresses to the point where the cell is terminally differentiated – it has become a liver cell or a neuron and it will not (again, usually) become anything else.

There are two general features of a terminally differentiated cell: it can only divide a few times – at most – and it cannot generate or develop into a different type of cell (again, in biology, there are always the rare exceptions to this and every other rule).

Unipotent and multipotent stem cells:

In order to deal with cell death due to injury or senescence (”wearing out”), most tissues and organs have a pool of unipotent and multipotent stem cells. Unipotent stem cells – as the name implies – can generate one type of cell (e.g. the keratinocyte stem cell can only make keratinocytes); multipotent stem cells can generate a range of related cell types. A good example of multipotent stem cells are the marrow stem cells, which can generate any of the blood cells – red cells, white cells (all types) and platelets – but cannot make, for instance, neurons or skin cells.

Pluripotent stem cells:

This is the type of stem cell that most of the media “hype” is all about. These stem cells can develop into any cell type from any of the three germ cell layers. These are not found in significant numbers beyond infancy, although there have been a number of studies showing that they do persist (in small numbers) into adulthood.

One of the major breakthroughs in stem cell research – and one that might not have happened this soon without the politically-motivated ban on embryonic stem cell research – has been the ability to take adult cells [Note: in stem cell research, cells become “adults” shortly after birth of the organism.] and “reprogramme” them into pluripotent stem cells. This not only gets us around some rather sticky moral and political controversies, it also gets us around the problem of the immune system. More about that in the next section.

Embryonic vs Adult stem cells:

The next classification of stem cells refers to their origin. Thus we have embryonic stem cells (ESC) that come from the inner cell mass of an embryo, adult stem cells (generally multipotent stem cells) and induced stem cells (iPSC, iMSC) that are made from either adult stem cells or somatic (terminally differentiated) cells.

How do stem cell therapies work?

Adult stem cells – generally marrow stem cells, since they are easiest to “harvest” – have been used for some time in the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma. They have even been used – with significantly less success – in the treatment of breast cancer and brain cancer. The reason that bone marrow stem cells are so useful is not because they have some magical anti-cancer activity; they simply allow the oncologists to use much higher doses of chemotherapeutic drugs. One of the limiting factors in chemotherapy for cancer is the bone marrow – higher doses run the risk of killing off too much (or all) of the bone marrow stem cells, killing the patient (usually due to infection from low white blood cell count – red cells and platelets can be transfused).

By taking out some of the patient’s own bone marrow stem cells and saving them, they can be re-infused after the chemotherapy has been completed – in essence, they “re-seed” the marrow. This allows them to use much higher chemotherapy doses, which (in some situations) can make the difference between a relapse and a remission.

A similar process is used – experimentally, for now – in the treatment of multiple sclerosis [1]. Multiple sclerosis is an auto-immune disease, where a group of immune cells are reacting to the patient’s own tissues (the myelin covering of their nerves, in this case). Recent advances in cell identification and sorting have allowed researchers to isolate only stem cells from the marrow (and none of the terminally differentiated cells that are causing the problem). After the stem cells are removed, the patient receives a course of chemotherapy (and occasionally radiation) to kill off the immune system, after which the stem cells are re-infused to “re-seed” the marrow with (hopefully) healthy cells. This appears to be somewhat promising in limited trials to date, but it is far from established therapy.

A bit more experimental is the use of stem cells to repair damaged tissues, such as heart muscle, nerves (spinal cord) and brain. To do this you need pluripotent stem cells (or you need to extract the stem cells from the tissue/organ – a technique that hasn’t been developed yet). You can use either embryonic stem cells (ESC) or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). So far, the few clinical trials using stem cells for cardiac disease are either in the early stages or not yet started.

Early on in stem cell research – before the discovery of techniques to induce terminally-differentiated adult cells to become pluripotent stem cells – it was thought that only embryonic stem cells were pluripotent. But studies (and a few clinical trials) using embryonic stem cells ran into problems with the immune system. Embryonic stem cells (unless they were harvested from the patient’s umbilical cord blood or a genetically identical donor) are foreign to the recipient, so there is the problem of rejection so familiar in organ transplants, where the recipient’s immune system attacks the stem cells. If the stem cells are (or differentiate into) immune cells, they can even turn about and attack the recipient’s cells, a phenomenon known as graft vs host disease. Either situation calls for immune suppression, which limits the usefullness of embryonic stem cells.

The advantage of using iPSC’s is that they are (usually) the patient’s own cells, so there is essentially zero chance of rejection or immune reaction. Of course, if the problem is a genetic one, there is probably little point in using the patient’s own cells, since they will carry the same mutation.

Unfortunately, iPSC’s carry some “baggage”, as well – literally. In order to “reprogramme” adult cells to become iPSC’s, certain genes – that have been permanently inactivated in terminally differentiated cells (and even in multipotent stem cells) – need to be “turned on”. Initially, this was done using lentiviral vectors – retroviruses that had been “engineered” to carry non-inactivated versions of the four critical genes (Oct3/4, Sox2, c-Myc and Klf4) into the cells and insert them into the DNA [2]. This worked very well, but the problem is that lentiviruses are rather….indiscriminate about where they insert themselves, so there is a chance that they will do so in a place that inactivates a critical gene. This is why so many of the lentiviruses are known as oncoviruses (cancer-causing viruses). As you might imagine, this limited the use of iPSC’s to experimental animals.

More recently (2008), a research team has managed to convert embryonic fibroblasts to iPSC’s without using a viral vector, using plasmids [3] and even more recently, another team managed to do it with proteins alone [4]. Both of these techniques are – needless to say – still being refined and are not ready for clinical trials.

So, if anybody is getting “stem cell therapy” today, it is either from their own bone marrow (and will produce only blood cells) or it is from embryonic stem cells (and carries the risk of rejection and/or graft vs host disease).

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