The Most Interesting Advances in Regenerative Medicine

Doctors with screens

(DGIwire) — Regenerative medicine has been the subject of great attention in recent years, for its potential applications in repairing or replacing damaged human cells, tissues and organs. The field seems to be advancing at an increasingly rapid rate—its applications quickly becoming less a futuristic pipe dream, and more a tangible reality.

With such promising benefits, and now with so many researchers working in collaboration globally, regenerative medicine continues to transform the scope of human medicine.

Here are the 4 most interesting advances in regenerative medicine:

•  Regenerated Tracheas for Transplant– A major focus within regenerative medicine is on the development of regenerated or artificial organs for transplant. At the forefront of this arena is Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Technology, developer of regenerated tracheas for transplant in patients with damaged airways.  Its bioreactors have been used in 8 surgeries and five of those surgeries have used the Company’s synthetic regenerated tracheas–which consist of an artificial scaffold, seeded with the patient’s own cells to prevent rejection.   In 2011, Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Technology astonished the world with the first ever transplant of a regenerated airway using a synthetic scaffold.  Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Technology’s trachea technology could eventually lead to similar transplants for the lungs, heart and GI tract.

•  3D Bioprinting– 30 years after the invention of the 3D printer, bioprinting—the process of extracting a patient’s cells, growing them, and then loading them into a printer cartridge for the printing of live human tissue—has come to fruition. This technology is being utilized as a viable way for researchers to test potential drugs and treatments on human tissue, without having to use an actual patient. While currently, printed tissues are only being used in medical research, the ultimate goal is to create tissues for organ repair, or even the printing of whole functional organs for transplant.

•  Stem Cell Treatments for Vision Loss- Vision loss is thought to affect more than 20 million people over the age of 18 in the U.S.; it can be detrimental to an individual’s productivity, or even completely disabling. Thankfully, stem cell treatments are being studied for their ability to treat different forms of blindness. One consists of inducing embryonic stem cells into cells that normally reside in the retina, which could in turn, be transplanted into patients for retina regeneration. Similar advancements are being made in the cornea, where researchers have already successfully regenerated a damaged cornea in a laboratory setting.

•  Stem Cell Treatments for Heart Repair- Heart disease has been the number one killer of Americans for a very long time, accounting for approximately one in every four deaths. While advancements over the last few decades have improved some of the available treatments for heart disease, existing therapies do not have the ability to directly reverse some of the scarring and damage that can stem from it. Researchers are exploring various ways in which stem cells can be injected into patients to regenerate the tissues of the heart, and potentially ward off heart failure. Currently, different combinations of cells and cell types are being studied for their potential regenerative effects.

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