There are two main types of stem cells. Those derived from embryos can turn into almost any other type of cell in the body. Adult stem cells, specific to certain tissues, are not quite as flexible, but still serve as a kind of internal repair system.
Because of their remarkable regenerative powers, both embryonic and adult stem cells hold the promise of curing a variety of ills. Stem cells extracted from bone marrow have long been used to treat cancer and blood and immune disorders.
At least one published study shows stem cells extracted from fat tissue can speed healing of grafted tissue.
Clinical trial evidence also suggests the cells might speed wound healing, improve heart function, and treat scleroderma, said Dr. Peter Rubin, a stem cell researcher who chairs the department of plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He is running a clinical trial to test the use of stem cells to repair severe facial wounds in soldiers.
But Rubin says any new treatments based on stem cells are years away.
And there’s no evidence yet that the cells can heal the variety of grave conditions, from stroke to incontinence to lung disease, that the clinics claim to treat — and no proof, other than the word of clinic operators, that they are harvesting the stem cells cleanly, or even harvesting them at all.
Stem Cell Investigation; Watch the Video