What Is Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative medicine aims to replace tissue or organs that have been damaged by illness, injury, or congenital problems, vs. the current medical approach that concentrates mostly on treating the symptoms. The devices used to accomplish these results are tissue engineering, cellular therapies, and medical devices and artificial organs.
Combinations of these strategies can amplify our natural healing process in the places 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 areas to find solutions to some of the most difficult medical problems faced by mankind.
When injured or invaded by disease, our bodies have the natural response to heal and defend. What if it was possible to capture the power of the body to heal and then accelerate it in a clinically relevant way? Suppose we could help the body recover better?
The promising field of regenerative medicine is working to restore structure and function of damaged tissues and organs. It is also trying to develop treatments for organs that end up being permanently damaged. The purpose of this technique is to discover a way to cure previously untreatable injuries and illnesses.
The concentrations in the field of regenerative medicine are:
Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials
Tissue engineering is a technique where biologically compatible scaffolds are implanted in the body at the area where new tissue is to be formed. If the scaffold is in the geometric shape of the tissue that needs to be formed, and the scaffold draws cells the outcome is new tissue in the shape desired. If the freshly developing tissue is subjected to exercise as it develops, the outcome can be a new functional engineered issue.
Countless patients have been treated with some kind of tissue engineered devices, yet the field is in its infancy. 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 healing itself. Studies have shown that if adult stem cells are gathered and then injected at the site of diseased or damaged tissue, reconstruction of the tissue is feasible under the right conditions. These cells can be collected from blood, fat, bone marrow, dental pulp, skeletal muscle and various other sources. Cord blood offers yet another source of adult stem cells. Researchers and clinicians are developing and fine-tuning their ability to prepare harvested stem cells to be injected into individuals to heal unhealthy or damaged tissue.
Medical Devices and Artificial Organs
In cases where an organ fails, the main medical approach is to transplant a replacement organ from a donor. The primary obstacles are the availability of donor organs, and the need that the donor take immunosuppression medications-- which have side effects. Further, there are many situations where the time to get a suitable donor organ requires an interim method to sustain or supplement the function of the failing organ until a transplantable organ is found. Using circulatory support as an example, there are technologies in various stages of maturation, originally 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 past illness management to look for and find therapies that support the body in repairing, regenerating and restoring itself to a state of well-being.
From prenatal surgical interventions to treatments for lifelong degenerative and debilitating disorders, regenerative medicine therapies prompt the body to perform a self-healing response. These developments in patient care across a wide range of medical fields indicate new solutions to expand and preserve optimal health and quality of life.
For more information about Dr. Linette's practice and Regenerative Medicine in San Diego, California, contact us at 760-875-2627 or visit our website at LinetteWilliamson.com and schedule your appointment today!