Medical science surprises us with every new study and publication. If you walked up to a person a hundred years ago, you would shock them just talking about the modern procedures we take for granted. There is always this exciting period where scientific accomplishments appear as though fantasy meets reality. Medical research strives to improve everyone’s lives around the globe – and the field of regenerative medicine is no exception.
What is regenerative medicine?
As the name suggests, regenerative medicine explores the science of regenerating organs. Instead of long waiting lists and searching for donors, regenerative medicine offers an exciting new possibility where labs grow human tissues. Customized tissues for research would innovate the medical field. This type of discovery would change the lives of people all over the world suffering from a long list of medical conditions, life-threatening illnesses, and debilitating injuries.
Isn‘t this science fiction?
Growing tissue seems a little too good to be accurate at times. It‘s important to realize; this is not some magic science fiction. Regeneration is part of the natural world, right in the animal kingdom. If you take a starfish and cut off its limb, it will eventually grow back. Their body sends the proper signals to the brain, letting them know that they need to start creating a replacement. This phenomenon isn‘t even unique for starfish. If you cut some worms in half, the segments will become two separate worms.
Of course, repairing or replacing damaged parts is not that easy in most of the animal kingdom. If you cut a person in half, you‘re looking at a lot more than some back pain. For whatever reasons, our body cannot harness these regenerative abilities as naturally as some other species do. That doesn‘t mean we can‘t learn to harness them with some research.
Growing organs and replace damaged tissue through the approach of regenerative medicine offers some game-changing techniques. It provides a way to replace invaluable organs infected with the disease without the fear of rejection or potentially reverse life-altering disabilities incurred from a nasty automobile accident.
Although we aren‘t exactly where we can print out new organs or grow a functioning heart in a petri dish, studies are promising.
Examples of regenerative medicine:
Researchers use the information we already have to expand the scope of medical applications. While many of these accomplishments are still in experimental trials, these findings offer an exciting inside peek of what the future holds.
- Guiding Stem Cells
You‘ve undoubtedly heard about the potential of stem cells. These blank cells can grow into everything; scientists need to learn how to control them. Researchers working on pluripotent cells managed to define some potential triggers. Scientists currently explore the possibilities in mice models.
- Hybrid Animals
Stem cell research is not the only field where mice play an essential role. Mice are fantastic model animals and help with organ generation research. Researchers found they could implant human liver tissue directly into a mouse. This tissue does not replace the mouse’s liver (as they still have their own). However, the engineered human liver tissue still functions. This study has several different vital implications. However, it namely allowed researchers to create a fantastic model organism. Because the tissue functions as a human liver, scientists can test concerns like drug interaction on a human system without needing human subjects.
- Engineering Bone Cells
Other researchers investigating the potential for stem cells found they could create mature bone cells. While these cells are still in animal experimentation phases, perfecting the procedure may allow humans to receive bone cell transplants.
- Creating Cartilage
If patients have issues with their cartilage, there was little doctors could do. Promoting regeneration was difficult, and microfracture surgery only had a 50% success rate. A National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) tissue engineer developed a new biological gel that facilitated the complex generation and an adhesive for the gen to maintain position. This procedure significantly increased the chances of improving their condition.
- Growing Kidneys
Growing organs is easily one of the most exciting aims of regenerative medicine. Additionally, it is arguably one of the more challenging goals. Functioning organs are complex and require a lot of customization and fine-tuning. Luckily, researchers made impressive strides in this field. Researchers developed lab-grown kidneys. These kidneys worked in both in vitro and in vivo rats – demonstrating promising results.
What does the future hold?
Now that you‘ve heard what research is up to, you can have a slight idea of what medicine’s future might be like. It is always difficult to speculate what to expect from the future, but we can tell that we are advancing to a new level. Just as our ancestors would have problems believing what modern medicine is like, our descendants will likely find our current practices confusing.
While we still have some research to finish, we aren‘t that far away from implementing regenerative medicine into our everyday practices. Our future might hold 3-D printed hearts or regenerated mobility following spinal damage. Keep your mind open and support scientists because they are making our future look bright.
Thank you for listening to this episode of RMG Talks. Catch a new episode every first Thursday of the month at 4 PM EST. RMG Talks is a new podcast series brought to you by Regional Medical Group, as a way to connect with our audience at home during these uncertain times. RMG Talks is a personal injury medical and law informational podcast channel that offers next-level entertainment and business news to its listeners. Hosted by our RMG team, we are now streaming on all major listening platforms. Start listening, https://rmgtalks.com/.