Stem Cells and Incontinence

Stem cells are a hot topic right now. Stem cell injections are being used to treat all kinds of ailments, from back pain to lung disease. But what exactly are stem cells? And can they help with incontinence?

There are two main types of stem cells: adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells are cells found in your own body. They can be found in adipose (fat) tissue, bone marrow and peripheral blood. Adult stem cells from one organ are capable of forming tissue for another organ. Stem cells taken from adipose tissue or bone marrow can form many types of different cells. Adult stem cells can be transferred into any organ of the body.

Adult stem cells can be extracted from various parts of the body, and then laboratory techniques such as centrifuge separate out the stem cells from other cells. The stem cells can then be injected into the affected part of the body. This is usually done in an outpatient setting, with ultrasound as a guide.

Embryonic stem cells are derived from embryos. Most embryonic stem cells are derived from eggs fertilized via in vitro fertilization in a clinic. They are not taken from eggs fertilized in a female’s body. Embryonic stem cells are promising in the eyes of many researchers because they can become all cell types of the body, also known as pluripotent. Embryonic stem cells are also relatively easy for scientists to grow in a lab setting.

There have been many advancements in using stem cells for medical treatment. A recent study published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine found that human stem cells could become bladder cells, which can help repair defective or diseased bladders.

Researchers at University of California Davis Children’s Hospital observed two types of stem cells, plutipotent (embryonic) cells and umbilical blood cells. The pluripotent cells were obtained by the National Institute of Health’s repository, and researchers coaxed them into become bladder cells.

The study is promising for potentially regenerating replacement bladder tissue for patients in the future. This could be beneficial for situations such as children with spina bifida, or patients with bladder cancer.

Moving forward, researchers want to develop a method that does not use human or animal cells so that these cells can be used in patients. There is still a lot of research to be done about stem cells and their potential for healing and re-growing cells. According to the National Institute of Health, Stem cells offer exciting promise for future therapies, but significant technical hurdles remain that will only be overcome through years of intensive research.

If you are experiencing bladder incontinence, contact us. Or call our discreet, dedicated Medical Concierge at 800-771-1953.