What Is Regenerative Medicine?
The evolution of the medical industry has always been one of the fastest moving in the history of any sector. Even looking back as near as the 20th-century shows us the speed with which the medical world has moved as transplants of bone, organs, and corneas have been commonplace since the first decades of the century. In the early years of the 21st-century, we have seen a growing trend in regenerative medicine which has become focused on replacing damaged or lost tissues and cells with those grown from the cells of the patient or a matching donor.
Human bodies are created with a built-in response to any injury, disease, or damage which may be an issue during a lifetime. Regenerative medicine is based on the fact the human body will instinctively try to repair itself by generating new cells or repairing damaged tissue such as the skin. Regenerative medicine is the use of similar strategies to those used naturally by the body which focuses on replacing damaged cells.
In the 21st-century, bioengineering allows medical professionals to grow and adapt the existing cells and tissue of the body in a way that allows a replacement to take place in a controlled and secure environment. This area of medicine is seen as important as medical experts have the ability to grow new organs in sterile environments which could lead to the elimination of the issue of a lack of available donor organs.
Different Forms of Regenerative Medicine
There are three major areas of interest for medical professionals looking to build on the advances already made in regenerative medicine in the last few years. The three main areas are cellular therapies, tissue engineering and biomaterials, and medical devices. By exploring these three areas, medical professionals are providing more natural ways of recovering from a loss of tissue or cell disruption based on the creation of individual treatments for specific conditions.
Stem cell research has been a buzzword in the medical industry for the last couple of decades as research has shown benefits are found for groups including those with degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's Disease. The use of stem cells and cells from various parts of the body begins with medical professionals harvesting cells from different areas including fats, blood, and bone marrow.
Stem cell research via t the use of cord blood harvested at the time of birth has now become a proven method of sourcing cells capable of repairing the cells of the body damaged by disease or trauma. The main use of cellular therapies is based on the injection of active cells into the damaged areas of the human body to stimulate repair and growth for the future.
Around the world, the major issue facing the medical community is the lack of matching donor organs capable of helping those with failing hearts, lungs, kidneys, and more. This field within regenerative medicine is in its infancy but has already provided a popular alternative to the common options of using medications to stall the advance of a disease or using the heart valves of a pig to repair improperly working parts of a heart.
Medical devices have been created with the ability to be implanted in the human body and replicate the workings of various organs. The development of complete artificial organs has been coupled with the creation of completely artificially developed replacement organs grown using human cells. Using human cells is a good option as problems have been seen with the use of pig valves not allowing the repair of slight tears because of ill-matching cellular makeup.
As this area of development continues, artificially printed organs will become the norm with organs grown to demand and the need for individual patients. This form of medical technology is already in use with young patients with spina bifida already using artificially created urinary organs to reduce the impact of their medical issues.
Tissue engineering or biomaterial engineering is one of the latest developments in the world of regenerative medicine. This form of regenerative medicine is based around stimulating the human cells using a form of artificial scaffolding which is used by the cells of the human body to develop a new area of tissue growth which will eliminate the need for replacement organs.
The use of biomaterials is coupled with exercise and physical therapies capable of creating an area of tissue built which can be used without thought for the fact it was created artificially. Tissue regeneration is perhaps the most important part of the development of regenerative medicine with many professionals believing this sector could change the way conditions are treated forever.
The Future of Regenerative Medicine
All signs point to a future where the need for organ donors is completely removed as giant leaps forward are made in the artificial printing becomes a reality. Many medical professionals and technology experts believe the future will see organs, cells, and tissue being grown to demand without the need to resort to harvesting parts from deceased humans or from animals who do not provide a complete match for patients.
As technology moves forward the next logical step being taken by medical and tech experts who have been looking to create so-called "smart" tissues and cells. These cells and tissues are hoped to be able to work to repair specific cells and tissues targeted by disease, trauma, and degenerative issues.