Today, roughly 114,000 Americans are on waiting lists for organ transplants. Based on data from the last 10 years, less than one-third of these patients will find a donor this year. This may be too late.
Regenerative medicine began in 1954 with the first successful kidney transplant. The March 31, 2019, Report on Regenerative Therapy stated that 1,060 clinical trials are in process worldwide. This offers hope.
Regenerative medicine represents the future of amazing treatments.
What Is Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative medicine describes the process of developing living, functional tissues that can repair or replace the body’s tissues or organs. This loss may occur due to age disease, damage, or congenital defects.
This promises to find a way to cure previously untreatable injuries and diseases.
7 Trends in Regenerative Medicine
Regenerative medicine is creating new ways to stimulate organs to repair themselves. Scientists can grow tissues and organs in the laboratory for transplant into the body. Thus, there is no wait for a donor organ to save a life.
With ongoing clinical trials leading the way, patients are finding cures now more than ever. Here are 7 new trends in regenerative medicine.
1. Heart Regeneration After a Heart Attack
Research at Mount Sinai showed placental stem cells can regrow healthy heart cells. These have provided treatment after a heart attack in animal studies.
The researchers noted that these cells seemed like a super-charged population of stem cells. They can hone in on the injured site, traveling through the bloodstream. They also don’t cause rejection by the host’s immune system.
After three months, imaging studies found the stem cells formed new blood vessels. To the researcher’s amazement, they also made beating heart muscle cells, called cardiomyocytes.
These findings are critical to developing human stem cell treatment plans. This has great promise for human therapy.
Placentas are always discarded after delivery. This offers a limitless source for these ideal stem cells.
2. Helping Bone Fractures Heal Faster
Researchers have developed a technique using stem cells and flexible implantable stabilizing plates for fracture treatment. This helps to decrease the healing time for large breaks and defects.
Stem cells are present in our bone marrow. When a bone is healing, stem cells in the marrow near the break develop into cartilage cells. Later they become bone cells and knit the break in the bone together.
With large breaks or deformed bones, applying more stem cells to the site can help the bone heal faster. This healing can be increased by either a regenerative process or stimulating the bone formation by neighboring cells.
To ensure correct stem cell placement and prevent movement, scientists developed sheets or plugs. Sheets or plugs include gelatin microparticles full of growth factor to help the stem cell make bone cells.
They also developed a flexible “fixator” designed to take the place of metal plates and bars. These fixators allow cells in the sheets or plugs to experience compressive force. This force is critical to stimulate cartilage and bone formation.
Stanford researchers isolated a cell generated from specialized cells in fat. This cell can make new bone and the spongy stroma inside the bone. It also makes cartilage that allows smooth, painless movement of knees and other joints.
3. Developing Central Nervous System Cells
NIH/NINDS researchers have been able to induce stem cells to become pluripotent. Pluripotent means that the cells can change into other types of cells. Researchers are creating cells for the central nervous system (CNS) in the brain and spinal cord.
These stem cells are “game-changers”, helping to advance new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. They are continuing to work on cells to treat many forms of CNS related diseases.
4. 3D Printing in Regenerative Medicine
3D Printing is now finding a place in regenerative medicine. Researchers are developing new synthetic soft tissues, such as an aorta.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans develop knee and shoulder pain every year. The routine treatment is repair or replacement of soft tissue.
These researchers are exploring the concept of using 3D printing and nonwoven fiber manufacturing to make new tissues that will grow in the human body. There are three components involved in this tissue engineering: scaffolds, cells, and active molecules to promote cell growth.
The three work together to make the new tissue. The scaffold gives form and structure to the growing tissue.
The scaffolding is important to grow the needed bone. The 3D printer, using MRI images or CT scans, can precisely reproduce the shapes and structures needed.
5. Cellular Therapies
Millions of adult stem cells are in all human bodies. Our body uses stem cells to repair itself. Studies show that harvesting adult stem cells and injecting them in diseased or damaged tissue, can result in tissue repair.
These cells come from fat, blood, bone marrow, skeletal muscle, and other sources. Umbilical cord blood and placentas, collected after birth, provide a rich source of stem cells. These stem cells have pluripotent properties to grow any kind of cell needed.
Cancer treatment has used bone marrow stem cells for years. They now hold important roles in repairs including patches for ruptured spinal discs.
6. Simple Hip Decompression
Osteonecrosis describes a condition involving decreased blood supply to the hip. This results in the death of bone cells in the hip.
This can cause debilitating pain, destruction of the hip joint, and loss of mobility. At this point, hip replacement is often the recommended treatment.
A less invasive, outpatient procedure is now available for eligible patients. The surgeon makes a small hole into the diseased part of the hip bones.
A mixture of blood and stem cells taken from the patient’s bone marrow is put into the hipbone. This can delay or eliminate hip replacement.
7. Skin Treatments
The physician can harvest stem cells from fat, bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, and placentas. They can isolate and inject fibroblast cells. When injected under the skin, they decrease nasolabial fold wrinkles on the face.
Keratinocytes can also be developed from stem cells. These cells are used for the treatment of severe burns. Scientists will continue to develop new strategies for treating disease and trauma.
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