Compared to most forms of medicine available today, regenerative medicine is a fairly new method that is rapidly growing. This form of medicine seeks to replace organs or tissue that have been damaged, whether by disease, trauma, etc. This is in stark contrast to traditional medicine that focused primarily on treating the symptoms.
Regenerative medicine utilizes experts in the fields of chemistry, engineering, biology, genetics, computer science, and several other fields to solve some of the most challenging problems faced in the medical field.
When the body is injured or invaded by a disease, it has an innate response to defend and heal itself. Regenerative medicine seeks to utilize this healing and regenerating ability of the body in new and innovative ways, allowing the body to repair itself well beyond what it is typically capable of.
What Types of Regenerative Medicine Are There?
- Cellular Therapy – There are millions of stem cells found in every human body. These stem cells function as an essential part of repairing the body. Research has shown that if stem cells are injected at the site of damaged or diseased tissue, reconstruction is possible. However, there are various types of stem cells and ways to utilize them. As such, while there are a variety of treatments available today utilizing this form of treatment, there is still many other cellular therapies underway.
Despite the stigma associated with stem cells being extracted from unborn fetuses, there are a variety of other ways to acquire stem cells. They can be collected from fat, bone marrow, blood, dental pulp, muscle, and various other sources. As such, cellular therapy is highly viable and shows promise to cure many diseases and treat even the most severe injuries in the future.
- Tissue Biomaterials and Engineering – Tissue engineering is a method that utilizes biologically compatible frameworks that are implanted where the new tissue is to be created. One method utilizing this field of work includes creating a framework that attracts cells to create tissue in the desired shape where the framework is implanted. Another method subjects the framework to exercise while it attracts cells, enabling it to become functional tissue.
This form of treatment is not nearly as far off from reaching the general public as most people think. Already, millions of patients have been treated with some form of tissue engineering. As research continues, this field of research shows serious promise in the future of medicine.
- Artificial Organs – When organs fail, the current strategy in the medical field is an organ transplant. The challenges with this matter is finding enough donors to keep up with those that need organ transplants and dealing with organ rejection with immunosuppression medications. Artificial organs hope to circumvent these issues. Through the creation of artificial organs, doctors can create an organ specifically catered to the patient, eliminating the need for a donor and eliminating the concern of organ rejection. The organs would essentially be created by the donor’s own body with their own stem cells. While this form of treatment is not readily available today, laboratory studies have already shown it is only a matter of time before this method of treatment is utilized for everyone requiring new organs.