Stem cell therapy is becoming an increasingly viable treatment for a number of different conditions. Because of the adaptable nature of stem cells, they can be used for helping with a variety of different ailments. But can they be helpful for people who struggle with kidney failure?
Kidney failure is an all-too-common problem in the United States, with more than 660,000 Americans struggling with it each year. When people experience kidney failure, their kidneys are unable to perform their normal jobs of filtering waste and fluid.
There are many different causes of kidney failure, but the treatment is often similar.
The currently-established treatment for most forms of kidney failure involves receiving weekly dialysis. In the USA, this costs patients about $80,000 a year in hopes that they can stay healthy while they await a proper kidney transplant. Since kidneys are not highly effective at regenerating, especially when compared to highly-regenerative organs like the liver, transplant is often one of the only options.
These costs are high and the uncertainty is frightening, which can exacerbate health problems. Fortunately, stem cell therapy is showing some promise for helping to treat kidney failure.
When a patient is receiving regular dialysis, they require this dialysis in order to live. This can create difficulties in their life until they are able to receive an organ transplant. Stem cell therapy, however, is providing a promising alternative.
Stem cell therapy is known to be highly effective at fighting inflammation. Inflammation is a normal bodily response, but if left unchecked it can cause problems. Anti-inflammatory substances and treatments help to reduce inflammation to facilitate healing.
Kidney failure can lead to a number of symptoms, one of which is widespread inflammation. Since the kidneys normally excrete waste, toxins, and excess fluid, their failure can lead to a buildup of these substances. This can create inflammation throughout the body.
Stem cells can help reduce some of this inflammation. This allows the body to dedicate more energy to the repairing of damaged tissues.
The particular cells being researched are known as mesenchymal cells. These mesenchymal cells are known to fight inflammation and promote the growth of new, healthy tissue. These cells can be implanted into the body which can help the kidneys regenerate.
Researchers are also looking at the use of using induced pluripotent stem cells for producing new kidney tissue. This research, which is still in the early stages, is looking at the possibility of being able to generate entire kidneys using stem cell therapy.
While current research doesn’t propose that stem cell therapy can completely cure kidney disease, there are a number of benefits. Most of the patients who receive stem cell therapy report improvements in:
By reducing inflammation and increasing the function of the kidneys even slightly, patients can also reduce the frequency of dialysis.
Stem cell therapy may prove to be an effective addition to kidney treatment and could help reduce dialysis frequency and improve the quality of life.
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