There's always something interesting in the news when it comes to progress in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. This is the sort of research community we want to see for every field that might impact human aging and longevity: large, thriving, dynamic, and attracting plenty of attention and funding. The practical result is that we live in exciting times - organ regrowth is right around the corner, as is the prospect of meaningful repair or replacement of many types of aged tissue. Regenerative medicine is not a one-stop solution for all of aging, but it is one of the necessary pillars of the true rejuvenation biotechnology that will be developed in the decades to come.
Here are a few articles that caught my eye of late; the mainstream media seems to be picking up the level of attention they are giving to the cutting edge of regenerative medicine these days.
In one lab, a surgeon builds a pink, pulsing heart, cell by cell. In another, a researcher literally sprays new skin onto severely burned patients. Elsewhere, a scientist re-creates the delicate folds of the ear - on the back of a mouse. Sound like science fiction? It already is science: Researchers in Boston and beyond are building everything from blood vessels to internal organs, using engineering tricks and dome-like bioreactors. Tonight, in 'How to Build a Beating Heart,' National Geographic Explorer investigates those efforts to transform human health, revealing the pulse-quickeningly cool side of regenerative medicine.
If an injured salamander can grow a new limb, why can't a human? Maybe they can, say researchers at the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. Starting with stem cells from patient's bodies, scientists at this Wake Forest University facility have grown 22 different types of tissues and organs. Lives are being saved and more amazing successes are on the way.
Using skin cells from young patients who have a severe genetic heart defect, Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have generated beating heart cells that carry the same genetic mutation. The newly created human heart cells - cardiomyocytes - allowed the researchers for the first time to examine and characterize the disorder at the cellular level. ... the investigators also report their identification of a promising drug to reverse the heart malfunction - for which there are currently no decent treatments - after using these newly created heart cells to check the effects of a plethora of compounds.
The first animal stem cell procedure in Oregon done entirely in a veterinary facility is scheduled for Thursday at the Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The procedure will be performed on Basco (pronounced "Bosco"), a 7-year-old German Shepherd suffering from osteoarthritis in his left rear hip. ... Fat tissue is removed from the animal, the stem cells are separated and activated, and then injected into the affected area. Within three to four weeks of the procedure, Basco should be moving well, with little or no pain, Medi-Vet predicted.
Veterinary medicine is far ahead in its application of first generation stem cell therapies; if you're a human in need of the same sort of treatment, you'll have to leave the US to find it. The principle effect of heavy US regulations on medical development is to ensure that working, beneficial, reasonably safe treatments take a very long time to come to the clinic and are very expensive when they arrive. Fortunately the FDA can't do anything about the competitive service providers and medical research and development groups in other parts of the world. Thus, absent a sea change in the state of regulation in the US, medical tourism will be a part of all our futures, and we will benefit greatly from the fact that at least some parts of the world are not as shackled and held back by a full-on command economy medical system.