The Advancement of Regenerative Medicine
Regenerative medicine is changing the way we treat diseases by providing healthy, functioning tissues and organs. Great progress continues to be made in this budding field of medicine, giving hope to those with conditions that previously may have being untreatable.
The regenerative medicine market is growing at around 21% each year. The United States regenerative medicine sector is making $3.6 billion in revenue and has produced 14,000 jobs. By 2050, the regenerative medicine market is expected to be worth over $350 billion and the industry is estimated to create around 1 million new jobs around the world.
Regenerative medicine is using our cells to repair and restore our damaged tissues or organs. It can also lessen the cost of disease, save lives, increase productivity, and reduce the cost of care. Therapies can also replace drugs, devices, and surgery. The U.S. economy has the capacity to increase by trillions. Because we have found treatments that can heal the body from within, regenerative medicine will eventually provide patients with affordable healthcare solutions.
Here are a few regenerative therapies that are revolutionizing major treatments:
When tissues or organs are damaged or diseased, living stem cells can be used to restore their function. Provenge is an FDA-approved cell-based immunotherapy used to treat those in the late stages of prostate cancer. The cells are removed, treated, and placed in the patient. There are many other kinds of stem cells that are being tested in hopes to provide treatment for diseases that have no cure – yet.
Gene therapy is a technique used to treat or prevent diseases. There are several approaches: replacing a mutated or defective gene with a healthy one, inactivating a mutated gene that isn’t functioning correctly, or introducing a new gene to help fight a disease. Sangamo Biosciences’ zinc finger technology was used to modify a protein on the surface of cells that HIV uses to infect the immune system. Even though gene therapy is promising, it is only being tested to treat diseases that have no other cures.
Biologics and small molecules
In order to regain function in aged or damaged cells, researchers are using chemicals and cellular components. While small molecules can be processed into ingestible tablets, biologics are a kind of drug made of proteins with a therapeutic effect. IPerian found antibodies in their disease models, so they could treat neurodegenerative diseases in biologic and small molecule drug candidates.
Tissue engineering is when scaffolds, cells, and biologically active molecules are combined into functional tissues. In order to help restore, reconstruct, or maintain tissue or organ function, synthetic or bio-based materials are implanted in the body. Barcelona saw the first tissue-engineered windpipe in 2008. Doctors used the patient’s own stem cells to create the windpipe and transplanted it successfully into the patient.
Drug discovery and toxicity testing
Stem cells are being used to study the effects of drugs on various cells and tissues, like the heart, liver, and even brain cells. Drug discovery and development is a lengthy and expensive process, but research is bringing new solutions to the market. To help advance development, Organovo and ZenBio, Inc. are creating 3-D human tissue models.
Cellular reprogramming and disease modeling
Researchers can study disease progression and development with this method that turns one type of cell into another. In 1958, Dr. John Gurdon took the cells of a tadpole and could use those cells to clone a frog. He proved that cells can be reprogrammed into an embryonic state.
This is a popular method used in medicine today. People store biological samples for medical research – whether it’s cord blood, birth tissue, skin, bone, saliva, or plasma. Biobanks catalog these specimens by age, gender, blood type, ethnicity, etc. Biobanking isn’t limited to humans, but also covers collections of plants and animals. Researchers turn to biobanks when they are doing testing for specific traits. Doctors already see the development of universal donor tissue to be available to anyone without risk of rejection in the future. Biobanking is helping researchers expand the possibilities of regenerative medicine.
FDA and Regenerative Medicine
Regenerative medicine advanced therapy (RMAT) was signed into law to speed up the development of cell- and tissue-based therapies. The FDA is even working to speed up the approval process for these therapies intended to treat serious diseases or conditions. This means that we might come even closer to finding new treatments for diseases with no cure.
However, stem cell treatments have already been approved to treat a variety of conditions, from arthritis to rotator cuff tears. If you are interested in learning about stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine, contact the Stem Cell Orthopedic Institute of Texas at (210) 293-3136. Many conditions don’t require surgery and can be treated with stem cell therapy. Find out if you’re a candidate today!