Stem cell therapy has less risks than chemotherapy in curing cancer.
Stem cell therapy is not traumatic. Chemotherapy is traumatic. Chemotherapy may prolong life but not very long. A person suffering from stage IV (metastatic) breast cancer who had undergone chemotherapy may live 18 months longer. However, the quality of life does not improve much.
Chemotherapy is indiscriminate, killing both cancer cells and healthy cells that are hit. Extra care is taken to hit only the cancer cells. But that is easier said than done. That is why there are side effects of chemotherapy like death of fast growing cells: blood, hair follicles and brain. It also causes memory loss. Therefore, chemo is not patient-friendly.
Chemo is given either orally or intravenously. Its administration is phased to give time for the blood cells to recover before the next chemo session. A patient undergoing chemo must have a normal blood count.
Chemo kills a mitotic cell, that is dividing cell. Cell division consists of four phases that include duplication of chromosomes and separation of duplicates into new daughter cells. It is during the separation of new daughter chromosomes that they are vulnerable to chemo.
Stem cell therapy is patient-friendly in curing cancer. It prolongs life and improves quality of life.
How chemo works
A chemo drug (Adriamycin) produces free radicals (Sharma, H. MD. Freedom from Disease. 1993). These are unpaired electrons that grab electrons from other molecules. In grabbing, they cause injury in cells where these molecules belong resulting in death. Or they cause mutation in the DNA of the cells. Mutation in healthy cells results in tumor or cancer. (DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid is a heredity material).
[There is now another new method of curing cancer that is also patient-friendly like stem cell therapy. This method is called gene therapy that has been proven successful in the laboratory on mice. It may take long before it could reach the market for consumers. Besides, Big Pharma is blocking its development because it will be a big competitor to chemo drugs that are now making big profits for Big Pharma.]
How stem cell therapy works
Stem cells in cord blood are now being used to cure cancer, like leukemia. This disease is cancer of the white blood cells. These grow in uncontrollable manner that they crowd out the red blood cells to the extent of decimation. Red blood cells carry oxygen that is why when their population is low the afflicted person dies. S/he cannot survive low amount of oxygen that is involved in the production of energy.
Cord blood contains multipotent stem cells called hematopoietic cells. These produce adults cells, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. White blood cells compose the immune system, guarding the body against microbes. Platelets are involved in blood clotting.
Cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord or placenta of a delivered baby. It is preserved in liquid nitrogen with a temperature as low as -190 degrees Celsius. When needed to cure disease, it is thawed and some portions are grown in glass disc or glass tube.
The amount of cord blood for use in curing leukemia is now established: 50 to 75 milliliter (Bellomo, M. The Stem Cell Divide. 2006:170). Cord blood stem cells are injected into the patient. In the body, they multiply and differentiate into blood cells. They replenish the decimated red blood cells, rebuild platelets and accelerate apoptosis of cancerous cells. The first transplant of cord blood stem cells was done in 1991 that cured a child of leukemia. As of 2006 about 5,000 cord blood transplants had been performed.
Apoptosis is programmed death of cells. Blood cells have a life span of 140 days.
This comparison of stem cell therapy with chemotherapy involves stem cells in the cord blood. In another article, we will compare chemotherapy with stem cells from plants.