Regenerative medicine isn’t new, but it is part of the future of healthcare. Here’s what it is and what it could mean for your continuing health.
Imagine coming up with a way to cure previously untreatable injuries and diseases. Welcome to the world of regenerative medicine.
Why wait for old wounds to heal when you can replace and regenerate damaged cells? That’s the magic of science that lies behind this exciting and promising type of medical care. Read on to find out more.
How Regenerative Medicine Works
This process involves creating living, functional tissues. Doctors use these to repair or replace tissue or organ function that’s been lost. This could be due to age, disease, damage, or congenital defects.
This field has the promise to regenerate damaged tissues and organs in the body. This happens by stimulating previously irreparable organs to fix themselves.
Regenerative medicine can allow scientists to grow tissues and organs in the laboratory. They’ll then safely implant them when the body cannot heal itself.
One significant advantage of regenerative medicine is that it has the potential to solve the problem of a shortage of organs.
Often there are not enough organs available through donation. There are simply too many patients who need a life-saving organ transplant.
Some History About Regenerative Medicine
In the early part of the last century, doctors managed to successfully transplant soft tissue, bone, and corneas. It was during the 1950s that real progress was made with the first successful kidney transplant.
During the 1960s, doctors carried out many successful transplants. These involved the pancreas, kidney, and liver.
Transplant surgery triumphs continued into the 1980s. Doctors performed successful heart-lung, living-donor liver, and living-donor lung transplants.
An Aging Generation
The fast development of transplant medicine has coincided with the aging of the baby boomer generation. This has led to an increased demand for tissues and organs far exceeding available donor organs.
Around half a million Americans experience the benefit of a transplant every year. Many thousands more are on the waiting list for donor organs. Some of these people are likely to die before an appropriate organ will be found.
Tissue-engineered skin is now being used for skin replacement. This can offer temporary wound cover for burns. It can also act as a treatment for foot ulcers and diabetic leg.
It’s now possible to create tissue-engineered bladders. These are grown from the cells of patients outside the body and then successfully transplanted.
How Surgeons Restore Damaged Tissues
Surgeons have also been using a material developed from the small intestines of pigs. They manipulate this to restore damaged tissues and support the body’s own healing processes.
Doctors rely on the material, referred to as small intestinal submucosa or SIS for all sorts of things. These can range from treating incontinence to constructing ligaments.
There are some instances when SIS really comes into own. These are when patients have hard-to-heal wounds.
These include second-degree burns or chronic pressure ulcers. It can also help with deep skin lacerations and diabetic skin ulcers.
Doctors use these to induce bone and connective tissue growth. These products will also guide long bone regeneration and can restore damaged knee cartilage.
Experts are also carrying out pre-clinical trials of tissue-engineered vascular grafts. Doctors could use these for cardiovascular disease and heart bypass surgery.
Stem Cells and Cytokines
Stem and precursor cells are accessible from all kinds of sources such as embryos, gestational and adult tissues. They can also come from differentiated cells that researchers have reprogrammed.
Regenerative medicine has made its way into clinical practice with the use of materials that can help with the healing process. This happens through the release of growth factors and cytokines back into the damaged tissue.
Experts such as those at Body Care Regenerative use therapies based on similar scientific approaches. They believe these kinds of treatments are part of a natural and holistic approach to healthcare needs.
All of this boosts the sophistication, diversity, and usefulness of engineered tissues. There are many studies happening with animals and humans. These are likely to pave the way for large scale clinical trials to treat lots of currently incurable diseases.
What the Future Holds
Regenerative medicine is going to improve the quality of life for many people. This will happen by offering them healthy, functional tissues and organs.
One day it’s possible that there will be no longer be a donor organ shortage thanks to regenerative medicine. Victims of spinal cord injuries could be able to walk, and doctors will simply be able to replace hearts that are weak or defective.
It’s easy to see why regenerative medicine is such a fast-developing field. It offers the potential to transform the treatment of human disease. All this will happen through the development of innovative new regenerative therapies.
These will be able to offer a quicker and more thorough recovery with far fewer side effects or complications.
It may be possible, for example, to create insulin-producing pancreatic islets. Experts could regenerate these in the body or grow them in a laboratory. Doctors could then implant them and create the potential for a cure for diabetes.
Surgeons could use tissue-engineered heart muscle. This would repair human hearts which have suffered damage through an attack or by disease.
The Use of Printing
Organ Printing uses a standard inkjet printer which has been modified with a tissue matrix material. This could result in ready-to-order organs of nearly any configuration. They could then be cast and implanted.
Experts are making smart biomaterials. These will actively participate in, and orchestrate, the creation of functional tissue.
There are lots of new approaches to renewing worn-out body parts. These include removing all of the cells from an organ.
An infusion of new cells follows. The cells will integrate into the existing matrix and reestablish complete functionality.
Hope for Many Years to Come
Regenerative medicine offers promise to those suffering from diseases which are incurable. This field of medicine is moving at a rapid pace. It offers hope to those who are in dire need of an urgent transplant.
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