The promising potential of stem cell therapy has given rise to initially encouraging clinical results. While doctors in North America and Western Europe continue to study stem cell therapy, rigorously evaluating its potential benefits, necessity triggered application of this science in clinical practice in Ukraine almost 20 twenty years ago. Nearly a million people in the Kiev area alone experienced adverse health effects when radioactive dust settled across Ukraine following the nuclear reactor explosion at Chernobyl in April 1986. Faced with treating patients suffering from conditions ranging from diabetes to blood anemia and cancer, the Ukrainian government began funding new research into repairing tissue and blood cells that would produce results quickly. Doctors turned to adult stem cell therapy, and they claim to have been successfully treating patients there since the Chernobyl disaster. Scientists in other countries are skeptical about this success because there are no published random clinical trials – the gold standard of medical research – regarding the positive or negative effects of stem cell therapy. Many countries have banned some forms of stem cell research, while scientists in other countries strive to become leaders in this controversial area of exploration.
A couple of early stem cell studies have shown limited success in cartilage or bone regrowth, which is the only outcome that could potentially cure arthritis. Stem cells seem to be ideal for replacement of damaged joint tissue.