17 Mar FAQs on Regenerative Medicine
What is regenerative medicine?
Regenerative medicine refers to the field of medicine that focuses on the replacement or regeneration of human cells, tissues and organs in order to establish normal function. Current modalities such as steroid injections only mask the injury by suppressing inflammatory and injury response, while regenerative medicine offers a more definitive resolution of the injury.
The field focuses on developing interventions that promote regeneration of damaged tissues and organs, either through replacement of damaged tissue or through the stimulation of the body’s growth and repair mechanisms to heal damaged tissues and organs.
Another innovative approach being explored by regenerative medicine is the engineering of tissues in the laboratory to develop functional organs for implantation. This approach is considered as the possible long-term solution for the chronic problem of insufficient organs available for donation and transplantation. Furthermore, if the field is able to successfully develop tissue engineering and transplant generation from patients’ own cells, there will be no more concerns about transplant rejection or graft-versus-host disease.
Are stem cells used in regenerative medicine?
Stem cells are but one of the many therapeutic modalities that are being offered by regenerative medicine. Direct injection of stem cells or progenitor cells as stem cell therapy is done in this field, although approaches such as inducing regeneration through bioactive molecules or infused cells have also been developed. Stem cells have also been used in tissue engineering for organ transplantation.
What are other therapies offered by regenerative medicine?
Chronic Wound Healing
Other therapeutic interventions developed in the field of regenerative medicine include the use of heparin sulfate analogues for wound healing or biologic meshes for inguinal hernia repair. Heparan sulfate analogues are used to heal chronic wounds by replacing the degraded heparan sulfate found at the site of injury.
Healing of the damaged tissue is stimulated through the production of growth factors and cytokines in the extracellular matrix. Biologic meshes have been used with success in surgical repair, and are associated with better tolerance than synthetic material.
Another regenerative medicine treatment offered for difficult to heal wounds is amniotic stem cell therapy. This treatment has shown excellent results for helping heal diabetic ulcers and wounds that just will not heal.
Cord blood injection
The use of autologous (i.e., the patient’s own) cord blood stem cells has found interesting uses. These cells have the advantage of being safe from any immune response (as they would be recognized as “self” cells), and they have unique characteristics compared to other varieties of stem cells.
Type I Diabetes
Type I diabetes results from an autoimmune response to the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. There is ongoing research to assess the validity and effectiveness of slowing the loss of insulin production with infusion of cord blood stem cells.
The stem cells harvested from cord blood show great promise in cardiovascular repair. Current studies in animals have shown that cord blood stem cells can selectively migrate to dysfunctional cardiac tissue, promoting healing and improving vascular function and blood flow at the site of the injury. Overall heart function has also been demonstrated to improve with this therapy.
Central nervous system repair
Research has shown that brain injury can be treated with cord blood stem cells. These cells have been shown in animal models to migrate to the area of brain injury following intravenous injection, promoting healing and improving neural function. Human cord blood stem cells administered to animals suffering from stroke has been shown to stimulate the growth of new blood vessels, as well as differentiation of neurons, in the brain. The effectiveness of this therapy will have profound implications in the treatment of strokes.
Cerebral palsy and other forms of brain injury can also be treated with autologous cord blood infusions. There is still an ongoing study to assess the validity of this intervention, but early feedback is encouraging.
Platelet Rich Plasma Injections
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy has been found to have great use in promoting healing of injuries, particularly those to the joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, bones and other tissues. It involves the preparation of PRP from the patient’s own blood, and injection to the site of injury. Positive outcomes have been consistently reported, and the therapy finds wide application across a broad spectrum of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions.
PRP therapy has been shown to increase the number and viability of cells that repair and reshape cartilage and bone, as well as to promote the reproduction of growth factors and repair proteins. PRP is thought to modulate the gene expression of cells such as chondrocytes, synoviocytes, macrophages, and mesenchymal stem cells, and thereby activate a state of growth and repair. For tissues that enter the anabolic state, this means less inflammation and pain.
Bone Marrow and Fat Derived Injections
These injection according to involve material obtained from one’s own body, processed immediately, and then injected into a person’s problem area. These are low risk, outpatient procedures that have been showing great promise in small studies.
R3 Stem Cell works with clinics nationwide on stem cell therapy for musculoskeletal conditions. These treatments are all outpatient and may help with pain relief from arthritis, disc disease, sports injuries, tendinitis, ligament injury and more.
Simply click on the Find a Doctor tab to find a clinic close to you or call (844) GET STEM today!
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