Stem cells are like the blank slates of our bodies. At birth, and even before, our bodies are differentiating our cells and assigning them duties. In multi-cellular organisms like ourselves, our bodies are like great task masters. Once these cells have a job they stick to that duty, but anything goes until a cell is uniquely identified.
Stem cells were all the medical rage as recently as ten years ago, when scientist speculated they could apply these cells to various diseases. One of the worst offenders was cancer, and stem cells provided a ray of hope for cancer patients seeking alternative treatments.
This thinking is actually slightly flawed at the moment, as we don’t use stem cells to actually treat cancer, we use them to repair the damage that our cures do to the body. A patient’s body is rigorously treated to remove any and all cancer cells. This battery of radiation and chemo-therapy leaves our bodies feeling weakened and exhausted. Stem cells may be the solution for this.
Additionally, there appears to be stem cells that help form tumors. If we let these cells roam freely, cancer develops over time. Scientists now believe that by targeting these stem cells, we may actually inhibit cancers before they begin to metastasize in the body.
The wide ranging applications of this research will change cancer treatment in the future. Rather than trying to kill cells from the outside, we may see medical science pursue a new strategy that destroys cells from within.