Would this be part of the epilepsy treatment furture? EpilepsyU.com
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that causes serious damage to the normal functioning of nerve cells. Here’s how stem cell therapy can help treat the condition.
Epilepsy, or sezures as it is commonly known, is a neurological condition where the activity of nerve cells gets disturbed. Seizures may occur as jerky movements of the hands and legs or even as the complete absence of any movement (as if the patient is daydreaming/lost in thought). Epilepsy can occur as a symptom of genetic disorders, due to trauma/brain injury/stroke, or certain medications, among other causes. Generally, patients are prescribed anti-epileptic medicines to control the frequency and severity of the seizures. However, this is a lifelong treatment and patients tend to become resistant to the drugs. In such situations, doctors advice alternative drugs or a combination of two or more drugs to control the symptoms.
In extreme cases, deep brain stimulation or vagus nerve stimulation procedure is performed. Likewise, surgery has also been indicated in certain patients to remove the portion of the brain causing seizures. However, these are invasive procedures and cannot be repeated at regular intervals to manage the condition.
How Does Stem Cell Therapy Work?
When we hear of stem cells, the understanding is that these cells are obtained from the umbilical cord and can cause cancer. While it is true that the umbilical cord is a good source of stem cells, there are other sources in the adult human body as well, such as bone marrow, fat tissue, teeth, etc. Regarding cancer, stem cells derived from the embryo (which is unethical and is not used in clinical practice) tend to have tumour-forming potential, as these cells are capable of forming every cell and tissue of the body (that’s how the fetus grows in the womb). Adult stem cells, on the other hand, have specific differentiation ability and they largely regulate the environment they are transplanted in and enhance the functions of other cells. They create a healthy environment for healing to occur. Moreover, these cells can be obtained from a patient’s own body; therefore, there is no question of side effects. Autologous cell and growth factor-based therapy; thus, may be considered a minimally invasive therapy that could be a ray of hope for the treatment of various diseases.
How Does Stem Cell Therapy Work In Epilepsy?
Regenerative medicine proposes the use of cells and growth factors that have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects to target the pathology of epilepsy. Mesenchymal cells and growth factors can modify the diseased environment in the brain, replenish the damaged neurons (nerve cells) and restore their connections, thus benefitting patients with epilepsy. This is combined with allied therapies that enhance the healing mechanisms in the brain (magnetic therapies, cranial stimulation, etc.) The outcomes of cell-based therapy are enhanced when all aspects of healing are employed together. In the context of epilepsy, this also includes diet modifications. There are reports that a ketogenic diet (high-fat, low carbohydrate) stabilises the function of nerve cells exposed to the electrical challenges seen in epilepsy. However, it is important to note that any treatment or dietary changes should be started only after thorough consultation with the doctor/dietitian. Depending on the severity of epilepsy, the holistic treatment with cells, growth factors, and the allied modalities can help to gradually reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures as well as the dose of anti-epileptic medicines (and possibly stop it altogether), ultimately improving the quality of life of the patient.
Overall, the first step is to create awareness about epilepsy, because it is still considered a social stigma and a ‘mental health condition in certain cases as well. People should be made aware that it is possible to lead a normal life with certain lifestyle modifications, exercise, and dietary changes. Add on a cell-based therapy approach to achieve long-term, effective control of seizures.
SOURCE: thehealthsite.com (The article is contributed by Dr Pradeep Mahajan, Regenerative Medicine Researcher, StemRx Bioscience Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Navi Mumbai)