Regenerative medicine is the idea the certain diseases and injuries can be treated by restoring the damaged or nonexistent cells or tissues with healthy replacements. As the ability to manipulate cells inside and outside the body has grown, the potential of this form of treatment has exploded. Recent studies on mice, and other non-human experiments, have demonstrated how regenerative cell therapy may be used to treat disease and prolong life in the future. There are several fascinating possibilities under experimentation in terms of regenerative medicine treatments.
This therapy has been successfully administered to mice in laboratory conditions to treat blindness and baldness. The therapy involves identifying the specific cells or proteins that are causing the condition, harvesting those cells from a healthy subject, and transplanting them into the patient. The success, as with all transplants, depends on the compatibility of the cells and how well the graft holds. Hair follicle grafts were quite successful in the mice experiments, while cells to correct a congenital vision problem were only moderately successful.
Stem Cell Injection
There is much discussion around the potential for stem cells, and they are a key component of regenerative medicine experiments. A stem cells has the incredible potential to differentiate or become identical to any type of cell. This would allow stem cells to easy replace damaged tissue that might be difficult or impossible to graft. There would also be almost no chance of rejection.
Whole Organ Regeneration
Science has made some significant leaps in culturing cells in laboratory conditions. While still theoretical, it is becoming increasingly likely that scientists will eventually be able to grow entire organs under laboratory conditions and then place these organs in a patient. The organ could be grown from a patient’s own stem cells, and thus there would be no chance of rejection. Organ disease or failure would no longer be an issue, and patients waiting for compatible donors would wait no more.
How are Cells Harvested for Regenerative Therapies?
The key to regenerative medicine is a reliable source of healthy cells or tissues. While cells and tissues for grafts may be collected from many sources, the most reliable source for regenerative treatments are stem cells. Stem cells are also notorious difficult to harvest because there are few sources of them in grown adults. The current most reliable source of stem cells is found in the blood and tissue of the umbilical cord. Since the umbilical cord is disposable anyway, harvesting stem cells from this source is much less controversial than embryonic sources, and much less dangerous than adult sources. These cord blood stem cells can be stored for future use. Companies such as Familycord harvest and store these cells to treat a variety of conditions and for the potential of greater treatments in the future.