Most people know that their bodies are constantly updated. Blood, skin and tissues of internal organs are renewed. Constantly functioning in the body, gradually wearing out and going through its life cycle, the cells die, but at the same time they reproduce. The body itself “repairs” – splits broken bones and tightens wounds.
Far less people know that in 70 years of life in the human body, renewable cells produce about 14 tons of body weight. And very few people understand what a person owes to his ability to maintain the constancy of the cellular composition in various organs and tissues.
From school biology lessons we know that cells multiply by division. It would seem that everything is simple: if necessary, the body “gives the command” and gets the right amount of new cells of one kind or another. If it were not for one “but.” There are more than 240 cell types in the human body, and if the body spends its energy on constantly reproducing each of the cell types it needs – “spare parts”, there will be little energy left on the basic vital functions. It would be logical to assume that the original source of a wide range of cell types in our bodies is a kind of universal cell.
For the first time, the mention that there are cells in the body that do not have a specific function, but are capable of giving rise to cells of tissues and organs of the human body (to turn, for example, into liver cells, hematopoietic cells, etc.), is found in the works of scientists as far back as 1800 year
The term “stem cell” was proposed by the Russian scientist, one of the creators of the unitary theory of blood formation, Professor A. A. Maksimov, professor of the Military Medical Academy (St. Petersburg).
Its essence is that the ancestor of all blood cells – erythrocytes, leukocytes, lymphocytes, monocytes – is a stem hematopoietic cell, which is located in the bone marrow. If blood cells were self-renewed by simple cell division, the bone marrow would be of enormous size.
Professor Maksimov was the first to conclude that the renewal of blood cells is a special biological process that differs from simple cell divisions. This happened in 1908. It is this year that can rightly be considered the beginning of the history of stem cell research!
The importance of stem cells for the body is difficult to overestimate. Because of the ability to transform cells of any organs and tissues, the stem cells play the role of an “ambulance”: if there is a malfunction somewhere in the body, the stem cells are sent there and replace the organ lost due to illness or damage, restoring its functions. At the same time, a special quality of stem cells is their ability to unlimited division.
Searches and research in this area continued throughout the twentieth century.
The first successful clinical use of stem cells was bone marrow transplantation.
Intensive development and scientific substantiation of bone marrow transplantation (BMT) began immediately after the end of the Second World War. This was due to the use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The widespread use of TCM in clinical practice became possible only by the end of the 60s.
The introduction of this method of treatment required the development of appropriate methods for harvesting and storing the bone marrow, and solving a number of other tasks, including the prevention and treatment of the graft versus host disease. 90 years of research gave doctors new opportunities. What used to be a real bone marrow tissue transplant — a painful and traumatic operation — later became a more humane “replanting” of bone marrow stem cells to a patient. Today, it is probably the only effective method of treating a number of serious diseases, such as leukemia and the consequences of harsh chemotherapy for cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic osteoporosis, and others.
In 1998, a group of researchers led by American scientist Mark Hedrick (Marc H. Hedrick) first isolated stem cells from adipose tissue.
In modern medicine, these cells are used to treat diseases such as coronary atherosclerosis, herniated discs, vascular diseases of the lower extremities, etc.
For cosmetic purposes, their own stem cells from adipose tissue are used to correct wrinkles using mesotherapy, scar resorption, and treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome.
It was also established in Mark Hedrick’s laboratory that these cells are multipotent, i.e. can give rise to cells of different tissues and organs: to transform (differentiate) into cartilage cells, bone tissue, muscle tissue, nerve cells, hematopoietic cells, and adipose tissue cells.
The discovery of Mark Hedrick showed that there are no useless organs and tissues in the body. Despite the earlier opinion that adipose tissue has virtually no function, today it is regarded as a universal source of multipotent stem cells for the restoration of organs and tissues damaged by trauma or illness.