Stem Cells, Regenerative Medicine, and Tissue Engineering
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Regenerative medicine helps natural healing processes to work faster and better. These technologies and techniques create an environment in which missing or damaged tissue that would not ordinarily regrow in fact regenerates fully.

Strategies presently under development include transplants of stem cells, the manipulation of the patient's own stem cells, and the use of scaffold materials that emit biochemical signals to spur stem cells into action. Regenerative therapies have been demonstrated (in trials or the laboratory) to heal broken bones, bad burns, blindness, deafness, heart damage, nerve damage, Parkinson's disease, and a range of other conditions. Work continues to bring these advances to patients.

Rejuvenating Aging Stem Cells

Research undertaken since 2004 suggests that the stem cells in the adult body - which become less effective at their job of repair with age - could be rejuvenated, restored to action with the right biochemical cues. Furthermore, researchers already regularly manipulate the genes and biochemistry of stem cells taken from partients for use in trials of new therapies: there is every reason to expect that future medicine will involve the repair and restoration of aged stem cells prior to their use in regenerative medicine.

Reports on a few of the more promising applications of stem cell technologies in recent years are linked below:

  • Early Regenerative Medicine For Hair
  • Cartilage Regeneration Versus Arthritis
  • Towards a Regenerative Cure for Deafness
  • Reprogrammed Stem Cells to Repair the Retina
  • Evaluating Autologous Stem Cell Heart Therapies
  • Progress Towards Full Nerve Regrowth
  • Engineering Bone Regrowth
  • Towards Liver Regeneration
  • Tissue Engineered Teeth Demonstrated in Mice
  • Producing Replacement Skin to Order
  • Regenerative Medicine for Macular Degeneration
  • Prospects for Brain Regenerative Medicine
  • Regenerative medicine will help to produce extended healthy longevity, as we will be able to repair some of the damage caused by aging, organ by organ. Aging damages every part of our bodies, however - including the stem cells required for regenerative therapies! Until we can address the root causes of age-related degeneration, we must learn how to regenerate every part of the human body.

    We must also become capable of reliably preventing and defeating cancer in all its forms and repairing age-related damage to the brain in situ - increasing risk of cancer with age cannot be prevented through regenerative medicine, and the brain cannot simply be replaced with new tissue. These tasks will be a mammoth undertaking. Nonetheless, like all great advances in medicine, it is a worthy, noble cause. Today, hundreds of millions of people live in pain and suffering - and will eventually die - as a result of degenerative conditions of aging. Today, we stand within reach of alleviating all this death and anguish, preventing it from ever occuring again. We should rise to the challenge!

    Creating Recellularized Organs

    As of 2008, researchers have found what may be a shortcut to the growth of replacement organs from a patient's own stem cells. Called recellularization or decellularization, the process takes a human or animal donor organ and chemically strips the cells from it, leaving only the scaffolding of the extracellular matrix behind. Stem cells from the organ recipient are then used to repopulate the scaffold, creating a functioning organ ready for transplant that has little to no risk of rejection.

    Some of the most impressive demonstrations of regenerative medicine since the turn of the century have used varying forms of stem cells - embryonic, adult, and most recently induced pluripotent stem cells - to trigger healing in the patient. A great deal of press attention, for example, has been given to successes in alleviating life-threatening heart conditions. However, successes have been demonstrated in repairing damage in other organs - such as the liver, kidneys, and so forth.

    What Are Stem Cells?

    Stem cells are unprogrammed cells in the human body that can continue dividing forever and can change into other types of cells. Because stem cells can become bone, muscle, cartilage and other specialized types of cells, they have the potential to treat many diseases, including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes and cancer. They are found in embryos at very early stages of development (embyonic stem cells) and in some adult organs, such as bone marrow and brain (adult stem cells). You can find more information on stem cells at the following sites:

    Embryonic and adult stem cells appear to have different effects, limitations and abilities. The current scientific consensus is that adult stem cells are limited in their utility, and that both embryonic and adult stem cell research will be required to develop cures for severe and degenerative diseases. As of 2009, researchers are also making rapid progress in reprogramming stem cells and creating embryonic-like stem cells from ordinary cells.

    Stem cell research is a hot topic in the press. It has been in the news non-stop for a good number of years: not a week goes by without the announcement of a new and amazing advance. The first crop of simple stem cell therapies for regenerative medicine might be only a few years away from widespread availability. "Simple," because these therapies are on the level of transfusions. Stem cells are cultured from the patient's own tissue and then injected back into the body - new medicine doesn't get much simpler than that in this day and age. Researchers tell us that we are on the verge of a revolution in medicine as large as early successes in blood transfusion or controlling infection.

    If you read enough of the literature, stem cells from your own body begin to sound like a miracle cure-all; extract them, culture them, return them to the body, and injured tissue begins to heal. It isn't anywhere near that simple, however, and this throwaway summary hides the many years of hard work by scientists to bring us to this point, as well as the many years of hard work ahead. Research continues, with a tone of excitement coming from the scientific community. They know they are onto something big.

    Last updated: December 7th 2010.


    When will this so called ''future'' medicine be available for the people who need it now? Are millions of people gonna be dead before the ''future'' medicine comes?

    Posted by: carlos angulo at December 12, 2010 6:23 PM

    i agree with carlos, this medicine will never be out until, the stupid united states government lets these kinds of medicines into american culture, there are 100's and 1000's of people dying everyday, because of diseases and these medicines have not even made their way into USA, once i grow up and become someone, i will finish what the united states never started... i will upgrade this medicine and find a cure for the horrible diseases that people suffer from... where there's a will there's a way!!

    Posted by: Arnold at February 12, 2011 5:15 PM

    The medical community doesn't want to heal. That takes money out of their pockets. It's all just a money-making scam, not life-saving. My 21yr. old suffered a spinal cord injury. I believe that they could use his "still young" stem cells and help the spinal cord regrow. How long will it take them to figure it out? As long as they keep getting big bucks for NOT figuring it out.

    Posted by: Vicki Gibbs at March 17, 2011 8:57 AM

    If interested in making this happen in our lifetimes, consider sending this letter, which I sent to my congressman and senators a few years ago:

    Thank you for your work on the stimulus plan. Today the markets are the biggest challenge to our economy. Looking forward, spending will be our greatest problem, in particular Social Security and Medicare. Republicans would eliminate them, if they could. Democrats would tax more to try to make them solvent. Most Americans want neither solution.
    The alternative solution requires rethinking demographics, and some scientific investment.
    The reason 65 was the age set for retirement during the New Deal was because most workers died before 64 in the 1920’s. Life was harder. Most jobs involved heavy physical labor. Healthcare was poorer.
    Today’s entitlement problem is not a financial problem. It’s a demographics problem. Today’s average life expectancy is 78 and rising. Healthcare’s better. Work’s less strenuous. But most Americans resist retiring at 78 because they believe old age will rob them of the strength to work that long. But as more retirees are supported by fewer workers, the system will fail.
    The alternative is to cure the diseases of old age so people can work at 80 as though they were 60 again. Much work has been started on this, but a concerted effort to finish it is needed now to make a difference in solving the coming entitlement crisis.
    Below is a partial list of people working on the problem.
    With enough government support, a sustained scientific effort, like that of the space program, could yield substantial benefits before the worst of the demographic pressures hit. Pooling and coordinating the effort in one place, perhaps UVA or Virginia Tech, will provide a focus for information services to persuade an aging work force that working longer and maintaining a good quality of life are compatible.
    Ciao e Buona Fortuna,

    Gary Andrews
    -Cynthia Kenyon, Hillblom Center for the biology of Aging, San Francisco
    -David Scaddon, M.D. & Anthony Komaroff, M.D., Harvard Medical School
    -Brian Kennedy & Matt Kaeberlain, University of Washington, Seattle
    -T. Keith Blackwell, Harvard Medical School
    -Nir Barzilai, Institute for Aging, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY,NY
    -Thomas Rando, Stanford University
    -D. Leanne Jones, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA
    -Norman Sharpless, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    -Woodring Wright, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
    -Hemachandra Reddy, Oregon Health & Science University, Beaverton
    -Mark Mattson, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore
    -Gencia Corp, UVA, Charlottesville, VA

    Posted by: Gary Andrews at April 26, 2011 7:33 PM

    I wonder if it would be possible to stimulate/genetically alter our bone marrow to constantly produce stem cells and then have these stem cells transported round the body via the circulatory system. If so, then maybe old, damaged cells would be constantly replaced by fresh, new cells, completely free of damage or mutation.

    Posted by: Sam at July 28, 2011 5:15 AM

    This is truly incredible. To even take a glimpse at what life would be like if people could live indefinitely, so long as trauma is not experienced. We need to create a greater acceptance of this life saving study, and teach those who appose it that it is for the good of everyone and all of mankind. The only possible issue I see with this is when the world's population quadruples every year. Either way, I only see good things coming from stem cell research.

    -Kyle Perez

    Posted by: Kyle Perez at August 25, 2011 7:23 PM

    "...sound like a miracle cure-all; extract them, culture them, return them to the body, and injured tissue begins to heal. It isn't anywhere near that simple..." No, actually it IS that simple. The comments above about the government not wanting people to be cured is absolutely true. Sick people spend a lot of money on drugs. The government will find a way to profit from stem cell therapy, or they won't allow it. Give them time to figure out a scam. In the meantime, if you are ill, go to Panama or another country that has verifiable results from their stem cell therapy. Most of the clinics in Mexico are a bit suspicious, so research carefully and choose wisely.

    Posted by: marty at September 7, 2011 10:02 PM

    In Germany, they are using stem cells from patients own body, harvesting them and then injecting them into the patients spinal fluid or brain tissue of stroke victims. Some of them had their stroke 10 years ago. Many of them are now walking due to this cutting edge therapy. Like Carlos Angulo said, "When will this so called 'future' medicine be available for the people who need it now". I had a stroke in 2007 and I wish the US had this therapy now. If this does become available in the US, I doubt if anyone but the rich could afford the treatment. Right now it costs about $60,000 to have the treatment done in Germany and stay there in what is described as a 4 star hotel for approximately 4-10 days. The only thing I don't know is what it would cost to fly to Germany. Actually it would probably be worth going to Germany. As I said, it will be too expensive when it becomes available in the US and insurance probably won't pay for the therapy. I guess we have to go to Germany to obtain this therapy. When will the US catch up to all that Europe has to offer now?

    Posted by: Joan at November 10, 2011 9:33 AM

    Is regenerative medicine play God or good science? And how do we even know that people want regenerative medicine if there is no data to prove that congressmen should fund it?

    Posted by: Jay at January 25, 2012 8:20 PM

    I harvested my adult peripherical blood, hoping there are some good stem cells still there, since I am a healthy 72 year old female, and stored it in a cryogenic lab, awaiting expected progress in biogenetic engineering that could give me healthy longevity. This is the least invasive way, of several options of harvesting stem cells, that might serve us well in a not too distant future. Of course, the younger you are, the better, but this field is so new!

    Posted by: beatriz at January 29, 2012 7:11 AM

    I definitely think that regenerative medicine will help us to see the light at the end of the dark tunnel we call despair and possible death. It will also possibly give us all a much better future and help us understand genetic engineering.

    Posted by: Greta at February 7, 2012 6:40 AM

    Is the stem cell therapy good only for the young? Anything for the old ones?

    Posted by: George Kurian at March 25, 2012 2:56 AM

    I have already saved my peripheral HSC about 5 years ago and had one reinfusion which 'cured my neuropathic pain from my cervical spondylosis. I still have a few bags of stem cells that I would reinfuse in the near future for antiaging purpose. I hope to coinfuse allogenic cord derived MSC with my own HSC . Any comments on this?

    Posted by: peter chua at April 1, 2012 8:39 PM

    any reserch done on arthrogryposis? The knees and arms and hands are affected.

    Posted by: s quinn at April 3, 2012 4:38 PM

    i agree with you guys too about that medicine stuff that you guys were talking about.

    Posted by: name at May 16, 2012 4:30 PM

    Is there a stem cell study to regrow nerves in the prostate area?

    Posted by: John David at June 3, 2012 6:49 AM

    What would happen if this medicine were to say, mix with the cells of bacteria and/or viruses? Would it make them unstoppable if not appropriately tested? I believe that we need to find a way to access a higher part of our brain to create our own regenerative cells that could heal different types of wounds and in some cases, sickness

    Posted by: Drew at July 26, 2012 3:16 PM

    can we regenerate the toes which has fully imputed.

    Posted by: jitendra at September 4, 2012 6:40 AM

    hi just thought i should tell you that you have spelt ageing wrong x

    Posted by: hope at November 30, 2012 5:56 AM

    In response to Mr. Chua:
    I would like to know where Peter Chua got his treatment. I've suffered from cervical spondylosis for over forty years. I don't even know where to begin getting stem cell therapy.

    peter chua (first wrote) at April 1, 2012 8:39 PM

    I have already saved my peripheral HSC about 5 years ago and had one reinfusion which 'cured my neuropathic pain from my cervical spondylosis. I still have a few bags of stem cells that I would reinfuse in the near future for antiaging purpose. I hope to coinfuse allogenic cord derived MSC with my own HSC . Any comments on this?

    Posted by: Roger Wilkensen at December 16, 2012 1:25 AM

    I would like to know how possible for a spinal cord injuries of incomplete or complete T12-L1 get cure through stem cells Regeneration?

    Posted by: S. P at June 8, 2013 2:44 AM

    is there any good places that do stem cell therapy for penis damaged by priapism

    Posted by: james at November 25, 2013 5:35 PM
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