The potential range for stem cell therapy is described by scientists as monumental. Being polypititic, or able to develop into a wide variety of structures, adipose stem cells are a particularly invaluable resource for regenerative therapies of the cardio muscles, soft tissues, and bones. The possibilities seem endless as adipose stem cells are also used for treatment in a number of degenerative diseases, such as cerebral palsy and osteoarthritis, and for combating HIV and cancer.
Adipose stem cells are labeled as being "stem-like" because they are a neutral or generic cell that has to be activated to develop into specialized tissue, such as bone, nerves, and veins. These type of cells are also known as adult stem cells and are harvested from the body fat of adults. There are two types of adipose stem cells: white cells and brown. The fatty cells are more easily extracted and are ten times more abundant than stem cells found in bone marrow.
Adult stem cells are especially good at differentiation or pluripotency, making their possible use widespread. Experts have had some success at treating people with traumatic injuries using this type of cell, regenerating facial tissue, ligaments, fractured cranium bones, and even heart tissue. Research on spinal cord injuries has also indicated that adipose stem cells may be a possible treatment, perhaps someday allowing people to regain motor skills.
Lethal and painful diseases such as chronic heart failure, stroke, and liver disease have all been treated with adipose stem cells in experimental trials. After the first or second heart attack, some patients may be able to enroll in such a trial. In laboratory tests, rats were able to recapture motor skills after a stroke after being treated with stem cells.
There has been some success in treating degenerative diseases and autoimmune disorders, such as HIV, with adipose stem cells. For HIV, the cells are turned into attacking T cells that try to annihilate cells infected with certain harmful proteins. In cerebral palsy, where brain and motor functions are diminished, adipose stem cells have been shown to develop into brain cells, but researchers are not quite clear how they connect or synapse with the entire neural system.
Adipose stem cells could potentially be a treatment for many types of maladies. Even old age may be battled if stem cells can develop new healthy tissue. Scientists are also trying to create an entire organism, a rat, from these "blank slate" cells.