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Regenerative Medicine

Updated: Sep 9

Regenerative medicine is a medical specialty that tries to identify ways to regenerate, replace, or repair damaged or dysfunctional cells, tissues, and organs. Tissue engineering, stem cell therapy, medical implants, production of artificial organs are among the methods utilized to achieve these goals of healing. Regenerative medicine might benefit one out of every three Americans, according to current research.

Combinations of these methods may speed up the healing process in those areas of the body where the healing is most required or can be used to repair the function of an organ that's been irreversibly damaged. Regenerative medicine is an innovative field of medicine that brings together professionals from biochemistry, computer science engineering, molecular biology, immunology, genetics, medicine, robotics, and other domains to solve some of society's most difficult medical challenges.

In the discipline of regenerative medicine, scientists are exploring strategies to grow healthy tissue to replace wounded or old organs and to address a variety of ailments. In contrast to the present treatment options, which focus mostly on symptomatic treatments, regenerative medicine strives to restore tissue or organs which have already been damaged by illness, trauma, or genetic anomalies.


“When we finally understand what our cells know, health care will be transformed, opening the way for regenerative medicine, which will eventually allow us to extend our lives by replacing our old bodies with younger ones”.

William Haseltine, M.D.


Level of human regeneration:


Human regeneration occurs on 3 levels:

  • Cellular level: This comprises cell structures involved for cell development and cell reproduction in the body, such as neurons.

  • Molecular-level: This involves little molecules like DNA, lipids, and carbs, which are the fundamental units of the human body.

  • Tissue level: Blood, bone, muscle, and skin are all examples of this.

How does regenerative medicine work?

Most regenerative medicine research is still ongoing, and several implementations have already been made. Stem cell therapy is one of them. In a lab, scientists cultivate specialized stem cells. Depending on the requirement, they may be programmed to act like different types of cells, such as heart cells, blood cells, or nerves cells.

If you have cardiac difficulties, these laboratory-made cardiac cells, for example, might be used as transplanted tissue to help replace or mend damaged cardiac muscle cells.

What Is the Purpose of Regenerative Medicine?

It is used for several treatments and conditions, including

  • Tissue healing in the cardiovascular system

  • Tissue healing after a brain injury

  • Improvement of the immune system

  • Therapeutic cell treatment

  • Tissue engineering

  • Wounds on the skin

  • A few types of cancer

  • Transplantation of organs

What Different Types of Regenerative Medicine Are Out there?


Discoveries and improvements in regenerative medicine continue to influence the field, but there are a few key areas. They are as follows:


Biomaterials and tissue engineering:

This is when biomaterials (also known as scaffolds) are implanted in the body where healthy cells are required to develop. These scaffolds act as templates for tissue regeneration and guide the growth of new tissue.

Even though tissue-engineered technologies have been used to treat millions of patients, the field is still in its infancy. Soft-tissue regeneration has been the key success story. This strategy has helped a lot of people, but more study is needed.


Cellular therapies:

Stem cells are cells that can regenerate themselves and develop into a variety of specialized cell types through mitotic division. Millions of adult stem cells are present in the human body which helps the body to repair itself. Stem cells, when collected and injected in regions where tissue damage is present, help to heal new tissue under appropriate conditions, according to studies.

Another emphasis of regenerative medicine is using stem cell research as a platform to replace diseased body components more naturally. The cells have all of the genetic information required to generate new tissue. That is exactly what they have been conditioned to do.

So your heart cells are designed to produce more heart tissue, and your bladder cells to produce more bladder cells." Clinical experiments involving the creation of bladder cells, kidney cells, or liver cells that may cooperate with surrounding tissue to form a completely functional transplant are currently ongoing. Scientists will one day be able to generate organs from single cells or encourage the cells to heal tissue rather than going through the hassle of seeking eligible donors.


Stem cells have the potential to differentiate into a variety of cells. Blastomeres, which are totipotent cells, also can grow into an individual organism. Pluripotent cells can differentiate into any cell type such as bone marrow, the brain cells. Multi-potent cells can differentiate into a range of cells, such as epithelial cells.


Stem cells have the potential to replace tissue for a variety of life-threatening disorders including Muscular dystrophies, Stroke, Huntington's disease, Motor neuron disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, Malignancy, Parkinson's, and RA, among other conditions.


Stem cells studies might lead to the possibility of producing organs including the heart, pancreas, kidney, and liver in the future which would be utilized for transplantation. Organs might eventually be grown from stem cells obtained from a person's tissue. Parents, siblings, and first cousins would no longer have to be considered for transplants. A person's body cell would be modified to become an induced pluripotent stem cell, which might then be guided to become a kidney, liver, or another organ. The ability to employ these cells has the incredible benefit of allowing the donor and receiver to be the same individual. Because the organ is a natural immunologic match, no immunosuppressive medicines are required.

Stem cells can be extracted from the following sources:

  • Bone Marrow

  • The dental pulp in the soft tissue of the teeth.

  • Muscles of the skeleton

  • Blood from the umbilical cord, placenta or amniotic fluid

  • Fat

  • Blood

Artificial organs and medical devices

Doctors frequently suggest organ transplantation if your organ is no longer functional and has to be replaced. However, finding organ donors may be challenging and time-consuming. In the case of kidney or lung replacement, time is of importance. In these circumstances, regenerative medicine has developed technologies and equipment to sustain damaged organs using engineering and robotics. e.g A ventricular assistive device can be implanted to help with circulation problems during complicated transplant procedures.

Remarks:

The areas of regenerative medicine and cellular treatments will continue to blend, grow and develop as more techniques are investigated and become available offering innovative treatments for various disease states.

References:

  • Journal of The Royal Society Interface: “Regenerative medicine: the emergence of an industry.”

  • Hipp, J., & Atala, A. (2008). Sources of stem cells for regenerative medicine. Stem cell reviews, 4(1), 3-11.

  • Kolios, G., & Moodley, Y. (2013). Introduction to stem cells and regenerative medicine. Respiration, 85(1), 3-10.

  • Ilic, D., & Polak, J. M. (2011). Stem cells in regenerative medicine: introduction. British medical bulletin, 98(1), 117-126.

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