What Is Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative medicine aims to replace tissue or organs that have been damaged by disease, trauma, or congenital issues, vs. the current healthcare approach that concentrates mostly on treating the symptoms. The devices used to acheive these results are tissue engineering, cellular therapies, and medical devices and artificial organs.
Combinations of these techniques can boost our natural healing process in the areas it is needed most, or take over the function of a totally damaged organ. Regenerative medicine is a relatively new field that brings together professionals in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, genetics, medicine, robotics, and other fields to find solutions to some of the most difficult medical problems experienced by mankind.
When injured or infected by illness, our bodies have the natural response to heal and defend. Suppose it was possible to capture the power of the body to heal and then increase it in a clinically relevant way? Suppose we could help the body heal better?
The promising field of regenerative medicine is working to repair structure and function of damaged tissues and organs. It is also working to develop treatments for organs that end up being permanently damaged. The purpose of this approach is to discover a way to cure formerly untreatable injuries and illnesses.
The concentrations in the field of regenerative medicine are:
Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials
Tissue engineering is a method where biologically compatible scaffolds are inserted in the body at the place where new tissue is to be made. If the scaffold is in the geometric shape of the tissue that needs to be generated, and the scaffold draws cells the result is new tissue in the shape desired. If the freshly forming tissue undergoes exercise as it forms, the result can be a new functional engineered issue.
Countless patients have been treated with some form of tissue engineered devices, yet the field is in its early stage. The primary success stories have been with soft tissue regeneration.
Many millions of adult stem cells are located in every human. Our body utilizes stem cells as one way of repairing itself. Studies have illustrated that if adult stem cells are harvested and then injected at the site of diseased or damaged tissue, reconstruction of the tissue is possible under the correct circumstances. These cells can be collected from blood, fat, bone marrow, dental pulp, skeletal muscle and various other sources. Cord blood provides yet another source of adult stem cells. Researchers and medical professionals are developing and refining their ability to prepare collected stem cells to be injected into patients to heal unhealthy or damaged tissue.
Medical Devices and Artificial Organs
In cases where an organ stops working, the primary clinical strategy is to transplant a replacement organ from a donor. The primary challenges are the availability of donor organs, and the requirement that the donor take immunosuppression drugs-- which have side effects. In addition, there are many situations where the time to find a suitable donor organ requires an interim strategy to support or supplement the function of the failing organ until a transplantable organ is found. Using circulatory support as an example, there are technologies in different stages of maturation, initially utilizing ventricular assist devices (VADs) as a bridge to a heart transplant, and now there are VADs that are used for long-term circulatory support (destination therapy).
Regenerative medicine goes beyond disease management to look for and discover therapies that support the body in repairing, regenerating and restoring itself to a state of well-being.
From prenatal surgical procedures to treatments for lifelong degenerative and debilitating conditions, regenerative medicine therapies prompt the body to enact a self-healing response. These advancements in patient treatment across a vast range of medical fields indicate new options to expand and maintain ideal health and quality of life.
For more information about Dr. Linette's practice and Regenerative Medicine in Oceanside, California, contact us at 760-875-2627 or visit our website at LinetteWilliamson.com and schedule your appointment today!