Currently, gene therapy, biomedical engineering, and stem cell therapies are among some of the most common and widely studied regenerative medicine techniques. Unfortunately, most of the strategies available today lack key characteristics – such as selectivity and reversibility – and researchers continue to investigate a range of promising alternatives in their quest to delay the aging process and mitigate the body’s susceptibility to disease. A new discovery in the field of regenerative medicine exhibits potential to spark advances in the field of tissue engineering; novel research from the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) in Milan has revealed the benefit of using light to facilitate the formation of new blood vessels in a new technique called “optoceutics.”
Many animals are capable of regenerating complex body parts and restoring them to full functioning. Salamanders and planarians regrow damaged or missing body parts, while flatworms can replicate their entire bodies from minuscule components of themselves. The human body is comparatively limited in its ability to regenerate, as humans are only capable of renewing damaged organs such as the liver and skin. However, recent research in animal regeneration has revealed various stem cell strategies for regenerating body parts, that could one day be applied to humans.
Stem cell therapy, a critical segment of the regenerative medicine field and market, is a quickly evolving field, with the potential to help people heal more rapidly, in addition to avoiding invasive surgical procedures and treatments.
The ability of the body to heal itself through this therapy is derived from immature, self-renewing cells located in the body’s bone marrow, which can ultimately restore and repair a wide variety of bodily tissues. The NIH has awarded a $5.2 million grant to researchers who have collaborated to explore mechanisms of lung regeneration in diseases like cystic fibrosis.
Scientists have also recently found that a specific type of stem cell can generate a range of benefits for regenerative medicine, as they can be differentiated into multiple cell types including neurons, heart, pancreatic, and liver cells. These studies have further confirmed that stem cell therapy can treat neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s and other conditions.
This rapidly growing sector offers physicians, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and medical professionals an opportunity to transition towards a more therapeutic approach. In areas where current treatment options such as surgery and pharmaceuticals are not effective, stem cell therapy offers a promising prospect of hope.
Learn more about stem cell therapy and its applications in regenerative medicine. The Fellowship in Stem Cell Therapies offers a comprehensive overview of relevant diseases, current research, and best practices for in-office applications.