Many parents who have children suffering from incurable diseases find that their options are limited. These children are often provided prescription medicines to manage their diseases or, if available, will opt for surgical procedures. One such child is Alex Hess, who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was 4 years old.
"Type 1 Diabetes occurs when your immune system destroys beta cells in your pancreas"
"I don't really remember life without [Type 1 Diabetes]," Alex told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh. Type 1 Diabetes occurs when your immune system destroys beta cells in your pancreas. These cells make insulin. People can also get Type 1 diabetes when another disease or injury destroys the beta cells. If they manage the condition correctly, most people who are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes go on to live healthy lives. In some cases, however, "you can lose your eyesight, feeling in your feet, your legs," noted Alex's mother, Jennifer.
Although there is no cure for diabetes, there is promising research that indicates an alternative treatment method may be available for diabetes: stem cells.
In one study, published in March 2015, scientists looked to see whether stem cells could be extracted from human dental pulp for alternative cell-based therapies. They concluded it could be, and that it was relatively easy to obtain because it was a minimally invasive procedure In this study, scientists only tried extracting stem cells from teeth that were already in the process of undergoing a routine tooth removal.
Dr. Robert Wolf, an oral surgeon, recommends saving teeth for young children who are losing their baby teeth and teenagers who are having their wisdom teeth removed.
"Typically you only need one tooth," he said. "The whole purpose and the whole reason this works is that we're able to preserve viable tissue, and tissue is viable when it's healthy, when it's in the mouth."
For those looking to treat their current condition with an alternative medicine, stem cell treatment may certainly be a viable choice in the near future.