Regenerative medicine, the emerging branch of medical science, deals with functional restoration of tissues or organs offering hope to the patients suffering with degenerative disorders. The field of regenerative medicine includes the use of cells, biomaterials, and molecules for effectively replacing or regenerating the damaged tissue. These are the major approaches involved in regenerative medicine –
- Rejuvenation (boosting of body’s natural ability to heal itself),
- Replacement (using either healthy cells, tissues or organs from a donor to replace damaged ones), and
- Regeneration (delivering stem/progenitor cells to diseased tissues or organs to regenerate and restore tissue function).
These approaches make regenerative medicine different from conventional therapies as latter treat symptoms; whereas regenerative approach works on the root cause of disease by replacing or regenerating cells or organs. For example, a person with type 1 diabetes suffers with impaired insulin production and requires daily insulin injections to keep blood sugar levels in control. Regenerative medicine treats this problem by regenerating the islets of langerhans, which make person capable to make insulin at its own. This would make person free of insulin injections and person will have a normal sugar metabolism.
Stem cells- A key component in Regenerative medicine
Stem cells are the building blocks of the human body and play a crucial role in the development and regeneration of human life. At the beginning of life, stem cells multiply again and again to create a full person from an embryo. As we grow, they continuously reproduce themselves; have capability to differentiate into various kind of cells replenishing cells in our blood, bone, skin and organs. Stem cells are considered a major tool of regenerative medicine because of unique properties of indefinite self-renewal and multi lineage differentiation. Regenerative approach utilizes these unique properties of stem cells to treat many degenerative diseases. Here are some of the applications of stem cells in regenerative medicine:
Regenerating healthy tissues: Stem cells are arising as viable option for replacing damaged or diseases human tissue, as they have capability to regenerate damaged tissues. The major advantage associated with body’s own stem cells is there is no risk of transplant rejection in organs or with skin grafts.
Neuro degenerative disorder: The current gold standard treatment for neuro degenerative disorders includes physiotherapy, speech therapy that just reduces the symptoms and improves the life quality. Stem cell therapy has paved the way for utilizing for neurological disorders.
Diabetes: Stem cell therapy for diabetes mellitus holds great potential to relieve diabetics of daily insulin injections, as these cells have capability to differentiate into islets cells.
Stem cells in aesthetics –A large number of clinical studies have proven that stem cells replace, re-grow, and repair on a cellular level, resolve age related conditions like hair loss, skin wrinkles, acne etc, and person get more youthful levels of energy.
Regenerative therapies based on the properties of stem cells hold the great potential to shift the healthcare by focusing on the underlying cause of disease by repairing or regenerating damaged tissues or organs instead of just treating symptoms.