Regenerative medicine is the branch of medicine that develops methods to regrow, repair or replace damaged or diseased cells, organs or tissues. Regenerative medicine includes the generation and use of therapeutic stem cells, tissue engineering and the production of artificial organs. Regenerative medicine also includes the possibility of growing tissues and organs in the laboratory and implanting them when the body cannot heal itself. When the cell source for a regenerated organ is derived from the patient’s own tissue or cells, the challenge of organ transplant rejection via immunological mismatch is circumvented. This approach could alleviate the problem of the shortage of organs available for donation.
Regenerative medicine deals with the “process of replacing, engineering or regenerating human or animal cells, tissues or organs to restore or establish normal function”. This field holds the promise of engineering damaged tissues and organs by stimulating the body’s own repair mechanisms to functionally heal previously irreparable tissues or organs.
Regeneration in humans happens at three levels:
Molecular. This includes small molecules that are the building blocks of your body, like DNA, fats, and carbohydrates.
Cellular. This includes cell structures like neurons or axons that are responsible for cell growth and reproduction in your body.
Tissue. This includes blood, skin, bone, or muscle.
What Are the Types of Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative medicine continues to take shape with new discoveries and advancements, but there are a few major areas
Tissue engineering and biomaterials
This is when biomaterials — made from three-dimensional (3D) printing using things like metals, ceramics, and polymers called scaffolds — are put in your body where new tissue needs to grow. Many people have been treated with this method, but research is ongoing.
All of us have millions of adult stem cells. It’s one of the ways our body repairs itself. Studies have shown that if adult stem cells are grouped and injected in areas where there is disease or tissue damage, the stem cells can help reconstruct new tissue under certain conditions.
Medical devices and artificial organs
If your organ is too far gone to function and needs to be replaced, doctors usually recommend organ transplant. But it can be difficult to find organ donors who are the right match, and it often takes a lot of time. Time is of the essence when you’re in need of a new kidney or a lung. In these cases, regenerative medicine has used engineering and robotics to come up with technologies and machines to support failing organs. For example, your doctor can put a ventricular assistive device (VAD) in the body to help with circulation issues during complex transplant processes.
Regenerative medicine emerged as an industry about two decades ago, a number of therapies have received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance or approval.
The delivery of therapeutic cells that directly contribute to the structure and function of new tissues is a principle paradigm of regenerative medicine. The cells used in these therapies are either autologous or allogeneic and are typically differentiated cells that still maintain proliferative capacity. For example, Carticel, the first FDA-approved biologic product in the orthopedic field, uses autologous chondrocytes for the treatment of focal articular cartilage defects. Here, autologous chondrocytes are harvested from articular cartilage, expanded ex vivo, and implanted at the site of injury, resulting in recovery comparable with that observed using microfracture and mosaicplasty techniques
Regenerative medicine replaces or regenerates human cells, tissue or organs, to restore or establish normal function. Regenerative Medicine has been at the forefront of publishing the very best papers and reviews covering the entire regenerative medicine sector. The journal focusses on the entire spectrum of approaches to regenerative medicine, including small molecule drugs, biologics, biomaterials and tissue engineering, and cell and gene therapies – it’s all about regeneration and not a specific platform technology. The journal’s scope encompasses all aspects of the sector ranging from discovery research, through to clinical development, through to commercialization. Regenerative Medicine uniquely supports this important area of biomedical science and healthcare by providing a peer-reviewed journal totally committed to publishing the very best regenerative medicine research, clinical translation and commercialization.
Regenerative medicine has led to new, FDA-approved therapies being used to treat a number of pathologies. Considerable research has enabled the fabrication of sophisticated grafts that exploit properties of scaffolding materials and cell manipulation technologies for controlling cell behavior and repairing tissue. These scaffolds can be molded to fit the patient’s anatomy and be fabricated with substantial control over spatial positioning of cells. Strategies are being developed to improve graft integration with the host vasculature and nervous system, particularly through controlled release of growth factors and vascular cell seeding, and the body’s healing response can be elicited and augmented in a variety of ways, including immune system modulation. New cell sources for transplantation that address the limited cell supply that hampered many past efforts are also being developed.