WHAT IS REGENERATIVE MEDICINE?
Regenerative Medicine is an emerging interdisciplinary field of research and clinical applications focused on the repair, replacement or regeneration of cells, tissues or organs to restore impaired function resulting from any cause, including congenital defects, disease, trauma and aging. It uses a combination of several technological approaches that moves it beyond traditional transplantation and replacement therapies. These approaches may include, but are not limited to, the use of soluble molecules, gene therapy, stem cell transplantation, tissue engineering and the reprogramming of cell and tissue types.
Regenerative Medicine replaces or regenerates human cells, tissue or organs, to restore or establish normal function.
Most of the 300 trillion cells of the body have completely specialized functions. Blood, lung, brain, skin or liver cells cannot do anything other than what they were designed for. Stem cells on the other hand, don’t have a specialized function. Stem cell research represents an entirely new approach to healing a large array of diseases, injuries and birth defects. This includes cancer, diabetes, Heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and spinal cord injury. In contrast to traditional medical treatments which usually address the symptoms of the disease, stem cells have the potential to cure by rebuilding the body’s cells and tissues from the inside out. Stem cell research will allow scientists to understand the underlying causes of disease, significantly contributing to the improvement of more traditional therapies.
DEFINITION OF STEM CELL: One of the human body’s master cells, with the ability to grow into any one of the body’s more than 200 cell types.
All stem cells are unspecialized (not involved with a specific area) cells that are characteristically of the same family type (lineage). They can divide throughout life and produce new cells that can become highly specialized to replace those that die or are lost.
Stem cells contribute to the body’s ability to renew and repair its tissues. Unlike mature cells, which are committed to their fate, stem cells can both renew themselves and create new cells of whatever tissue they belong to (and other tissues).
THE PROPERTIES OF STEM CELLS: Stem cells have two biological properties that make their clinical exploitation both feasible and attractive. First, they are capable of self-renewal. When a stem cell divides, it produces a carbon copy of itself. Second, stem cells can differentiate into more specialized cells. In the human brain for instance, there are rare neural stem cells. These can turn into more neural stem cells or, under the appropriate conditions, differentiate into specialized types of cells to replace old or damaged tissue in the brain.