Stem cell therapy: A cure or curse
Stem cells are broadly defined as cells with the ability to differentiate into a number of specialised tissues. There are at least 2 kinds of stem cells: haematopoietic stem cells, which form all types of blood cells in the body; and mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), which can generate bone, cartilage and fat cells that support the formation of blood and fibrous connective tissue. Stem cell transplantation (SCT) includes the transplantation of both of
these cell types. Haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) refers to the infusion of hematopoietic
stem cells into a patient, typically obtained from peripheral blood or bone marrow. HSCTs are classified as either allogeneic when sourced from a matching donor, or autologous when stem cells from the patient are used. MSC therapy uses cells from bone marrow, adipose, muscle, peripheral blood or the umbilical cord; however, the application of MSCs has been associated with variable clinical outcomes.