After an injury, your body doesn’t only give up. Instead, it undergoes thousands of complex processes to defend and repair your tissues. Although these abilities are supernatural, they are pretty impressive. Consider how bones fuse back together, or our cuts close.
Of course, our natural biology faces several limitations. There are many different injuries that we cannot recover from without some assistance. It is where regenerative medicine comes in.
What is Regenerative Medicine?
“What if doctors could help the body heal more efficiently?” According to Dr. Pallavi Cherukupally, this question is the “heart of regenerative therapy.” This field aims to assist the body with repairing itself.
In some situations, this could mean that these techniques significantly cut recovery periods. In other cases, this refers to restoring parts of the body so that some still see as science fiction or magic. Researchers worldwide dedicate their time and efforts to expanding our medical understanding in this dimension every year.
With each publication, we get a little bit closer to “curing the uncurable.” The best part is that these treatments and techniques are already beyond theoretical stages. Although they are far from where researchers want to be, we can already celebrate some pretty impressive medical feats.
- Cell Therapy:
Also known as cell transplantation or cytotherapy, cell therapy refers to where human cells to achieve medical effects. There are several ways cells are used depending on what you intend to do with them. They can be injected, implanted, or graphed.
This research is crucial in battling cancer. Cancer is a complicated disease because the enemy is not a foreign agent. Instead, the problem lies within an individual’s cells. Due to this property, it’s incredibly difficult to target cancer cells directly. Instead, treatments need to be a little more creative.
One particular property of cancer cells is that they rapidly divide. Many cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy work, by attacking any dividing section. While this theoretically effectively kills cancer cells, healthy cells naturally dividing are also attacked through these treatments. Unfortunately, this means that many cancer treatments destroy many healthy cells, which also negatively impacts health. These cells don’t just regenerate instantaneously after death. Luckily, cell therapy innovations found a possible way to do without it.
Introducing healthy cells from a compatible donor offers one such solution. This technique is popular for those in need of bone marrow following cancer treatment.
Another example of this specific field would be stem cell research by harvesting cells from tissues such as umbilical cords. Since stem cells are essentially “blank slates,” they are ideal candidates for repairing different biological structures.
Of course, these cell therapies are easier said than done. They are a complicated procedure that still requires finding a compatible donor. Researchers hope to uncover optimization strategies to either store donor cells or develop more effective treatments.
- Artificial Organs, Engineering Tissues, and Medical Devices:
In some scenarios, doctors need to do more than repair a structure. Patients who are needing entire organs replaced face many obstacles. Those in need of a transplant know the struggles of waiting on a long donation list and hoping something comes through. The chances of finding a compatible donor are incredibly low – and even then, there is a risk for rejection.
Luckily, scientists already discovered several different solutions for addressed damaged or diseased tissues.
There is no one more compatible with you than you! In recent years, researchers made great strides in “growing” new organs. By using the patient’s very own cells, scientists can grow new organs. Of course, many of these treatments require more study before implementation.
There are some success stories about patients who received artificially grown bladders already! This feat is incredibly promising and paths the way for successes with more complex organs like hearts.
Traditionally, those who need their hearts repaired utilize other means of replacement. Some popular options surgeries use biological valves from pigs or even mechanical replacements. These surgeries come with their risks that are avoidable when using artificially grown components.
When you don’t need an entire organ replaced, scientists also found success growing heart valves using the patient’s cells. Using biomaterials and sophisticated molds, scientists created lab-grown valves. After some more study and observation, regenerative scientists hope to implant these into human participants successfully. When we accomplish this, problems like organ rejection would be a thing of the past.
The future of regenerative medicine:
Researchers hope that the field of regenerative medicine continues to advance. With all of the research conducted around the world, there is a lot of room for improvement. Even as we speak, labs are working on the “impossible.” The accomplishments we discussed today are only the beginning of what they have to offer.
Once research allows for these lab-grown organs, researchers hope to make many lethal diseases obsolete. Conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease may be a thing of the past. They may even offer solutions for pain management, illnesses, and congenital disabilities. Spinal cord injuries are another big topic among the community. Those who face quadriplegia or paraplegia may find a solution in these treatments.
Imagine a future where getting injected with your cells after getting into a car accident can reverse a life-threatening disability. How great would it be if a simple injection solved the devastating news of a cancer diagnosis? One day, we hope that undergoing these procedures will be as easy as visiting a chiropractor for lower back pain or whiplash.
When it comes to a cutting edge field like regenerative medicine, the possibilities are endless.
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/.