Stem cell research in recent years has turned out with huge success that created a prolific change in the medical world. The basic idea of how these cells work is that they can turn into any specialized cell types, something that scientists have used for treating a specific tissue or organ. Their fundamental composition is not committed to any developmental path and it only develops according to the environment (liver tissue for example) they are used in. That is where the name “undifferentiated cells” came from. Naturally, stem cells will divide, multiply, and repair damaged cells in the existing tissue. That’s why thousands of dollars worth of research was dedicated to understanding the process in which these cells become differentiated and so far, it has been spectacularly successful. Here is why this type of regenerative medicine became popular so fast.
Regenerative Medicine Helps with Spinal Cord Injuries
Unfortunately, the spinal cord is one of the body parts that doesn’t have the best healing capacity, therefore, injuries might lead to a painful and slow recovery. In order to alleviate some of that pain, scientists furthered the progress of stem cell research to make the possibility of managing your pain a reality and not just a possibility that could happen upon taking painkillers. The researchers who have made studies over the regenerative ability of the central nervous system axons have directed treatment perspectives into the cellular level, which showed excellent regenerative results when placing the regenerative tissue in supportive environments, like the injured spinal cord. With spinal cord injuries, stem cells fill the place of cysts, which, in turn prompts axonal regeneration. There are a few issues, however, that yet need to be solved, such as the best cellular dosage of cells and the best time to administer it.
It Helps Create Artificial Organs
The concept of artificial organs more than often interconnects with regenerative medicine. Though it has been distinct from that type of therapy, however, creating artificial organs has become a reality in the last 50 years when implementing the project using stem cell technology. While regenerative medicine was traditionally based on the idea of regenerating tissue outside the body, creating artificial organs was expected to be inside it. Using stem cell technology, artificial organs such as vascular prostheses, skin prostheses, bone prostheses, neuroprostheses, and bladder substitutes were successfully created in a human body, as tissue regeneration occurred over a man-made prosthesis. Regenerative medicine still helps patients from all over the world to create new body parts from the patients’ own cells and tissues in order to minimize the chance of tissue rejection.
Regenerative Medicine Improves Therapeutic Medical Devices
When regenerative medicine started gaining popularity, medical devices didn’t play a major role in the industry. However, they started becoming important in the manufacturing process when it came to collecting materials and preservation of the final product. Thus, the need for more specialized equipment arose. There are also studies that imply that medical devices, in conjunction with regenerative medicine technology, are expected to create bioartificial organs, like bioartificial livers for patients who suffer liver failures. Bioartificial livers will keep them alive until their liver regenerates successfully or in case the patient has a liver transplant. This proves that medical devices were, and still are, developed to fit the demands of regenerative medicine.
One of the most famous aspects of regenerative medicine is creating tissues. Scientists contemplated the idea of engineering tissues due to the uncertainty of the body accepting or rejecting an organ. For example, a patient could be afflicted with heart disease and requires an immediate transplant. If the patient was able to survive long enough for the transplant, there is still a high chance of his body rejecting the organ. When a heart disease requires replacing the heart valves, surgeons implant mechanical devices or pig aortic valves, but there is still a big risk to this process, like the formation of blood clots and the body rejecting the implanted valves. This was solved with regenerative medicine technology by using biomaterials to create human valves from a patient’s own tissue; hence, leaving no chance for the body to reject the valves.
It Created Organ Printing
Instead of the traditional scaffold-based methods of tissue-engineering, organ printing was presented as new technology to replace the old-fashioned methods of tissue-engineering. Bio-engineers use organ printing by fabricating macro-tissues and organs in 3D form using spheroids as the main component of the print. Organ printing usually involves three steps; developing blueprints for the natural organs that reconstruct the organ or the tissue, the processing of the organ or the tissue layer by layer into a 3D print, and post-processing, which involves perfusing the printed organ in order for it to mature into a full organ. The bioprinting technology produces bones and soft tissues to be used in reconstructive surgeries and also creates skin tissues and cartilaginous structures from scratch.
With all these advancements in surgical and therapeutic fields, several applications also made their way in the field of dentistry. Regenerative medicine was expected to treat periodontal defects, repair, and even restore teeth. These objectives were achieved along with dentin regeneration, pulp regeneration, restoring resorbed root, and healing oral wounds. It also offered the opportunity to regenerate bio-root structure to create an artificial crown by using dental stem cells. Although tooth regeneration should replace dental implants soon, it is not widely industrialized and still remains as a research idea, but the truth still remains that regenerative therapy can revolutionize dentistry to a great extent.
In some cases, fetuses might be affected by dangerous disorders like pulmonary hypoplasia, which happens because the fetus’s lungs are too small to be able to breathe on his own. This calls for performing utero surgery to perform regenerative techniques that can promote the fetus’s lung development, thus ensuring his chances to survive.
Regenerative medicine, or stem cell treatment, is one of the emerging technologies that has achieved wide-scale success in multiple fields of medicine. It has changed perspectives on organ transplant surgeries and provided surgeons with a better alternative. While there are some that would question the ethics behind this approach, it still remains a vital source of knowledge on human regeneration that will help researchers greatly in the future.