Small Cell, Big Controversy

Although stem cells are so tiny, they’re always big news – and big controversy. Concerns range from the morality and ethics of embryonic stem cells harvested from fetal tissue to using stem cells to recreate extinct species in test labs a la Jurassic Park. Dr. Johnson is often asked about stem cells and how he uses stem cells to treat patients. Some of these questions include what kinds of stem cells are used, how they are harvested, and what are their benefits.

There are many different sources of stem cells found in the body. Some of the most commonly discussed are embryonic, tissue-specific, and mesenchymal. Embryonic stem cell use is at the heart of the stem cell controversy because their harvesting uses human embryonic tissue. This practice is often protested over for ethical and religious reasons because embryonic stem cell collection can destroy the embryo in use. There are other ways embryonic stem cells are collected, including using umbilical cord blood and tissue. Another hotly debated topic is the use of stem cells from aborted embryos. While other countries are successfully using human embryonic stem cells to treat multiple diseases and conditions in patients around the world, the use of these stem cells is currently banned in the United States.

Because embryonic stem cell use is so controversial, any stem cell use – even ones that do not use embryonic cells – is typically wrought with controversy and concern.

Dr. Johnson does not use embryonic stem cells. He uses mesenchymal stem cells, specifically those mesenchymal stem cells found in adipose fat. Adipose fat cells are cells that form the fatty connective tissue that helps to cushion and insulate our bodies. Mesenchymal stem cells are pretty dynamic in the fact that they grow to form multiple kinds of tissues throughout the body. Mesenchymal stem cells also form other connective tissues like cartilage and muscles and our blood vessels. These cells also form the bones and bone marrow.

Because mesenchymal cells are so dynamic in their ability to form tissues throughout the body, they can be used to treat a wide range of diseases and conditions. Most individuals have an abundance of these cells – which provide a wealth of resources for future treatments.

If you have questions regarding the types of stem cells used by Dr. Johnson, call to schedule a consultation at 214-643-8665.