What is regenerative medicine?
Regenerative Medicine is a type of Medicine that, instead of treating the symptoms of a condition, trauma, or disease, aims to replace or rebuild tissues, cells, and organs. Regenerative Medicine uses molecular biology and stem cell and artificial organ research to stimulate the body's repair systems to heal tissues and organs normally impossible to repair effectively.
The different types of regenerative Medicine
- Repair with stem cells
Stem cells are one of the ways in which the body repairs itself. Stem cells collected from the body can be injected into an area of diseased or damaged tissue. Subsequently, if the conditions are right, it can rebuild itself. Studies are still ongoing, and progress is being made in understanding how embryonic stem cells, which are able to transform into any cell, can be used to help organs, nerve cells, muscle cells, tissues, blood, and other cells to regenerate and replace damaged or diseased cells. Regeneration already occurs in some animals, such as zebrafish and Mexican salamander.
- Stem cell therapy
Stem cells are located in the bone marrow, from which they are normally taken, but there are also new techniques that stimulate the release of these cells into the blood using a blood hormone, allowing their collection directly from the blood. As explained in the previous point, stem cells can be used to treat a wide range of diseases and genetic disorders, including leukemia, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, arthritis through the replacement of damaged cells.
- Organ growth and replacement
In patients with organs that have stopped working, the normal procedure is to transplant a replacement organ from a donor. Regenerative Medicine also offers the possibility of growing tissues or organs in the laboratory to be subsequently implanted in the patient. Cells can be picked up by the patient to grow tissue and organ cells, thereby solving the problem of a lack of organs from donors.
- Biomaterials and tissue engineering
This field of regenerative medicine involves the implantation of biologically compatible structures (scaffolds) to allow the formation of new tissue. The scaffold attracts the surrounding cells, allowing them to grow on them, favoring tissue formation with the desired shape and structure. It is a relatively new and ever-changing field of study.
What does regenerative Medicine consist of?
The goal of regenerative medicine, given the future of 21st-century Medicine, is to identify cells, defined as stem cells, capable of replacing diseased cells and also to reconstruct the suitable environment so that they can be hosted and "controlled" (tissue engineering). This branch of Medicine has established itself due to the wide disciplinary versatility/transversality, also promising to cure diseases that currently do not require any therapy.
Unlike traditional medicine, for example, interventions serve to repair or remove damaged or diseased tissues, in the case of Regenerative Medicine, the aim is to regenerate these tissues.
Mesenchymal cells: what are they for?
Mesenchymal cells that are multifunctional mother cells that can be isolated through the umbilical cord, amniotic fluid, fat, placenta, bone marrow, and peripheral blood are being used more and more. They are defined as "multifunctional" because they specialize in the production of different types of cells (cartilage, bone tissue, and fat) and which allow the construction of a new tissue that replaces the damaged or worn one.
In the purely orthopedic field, while with hyaluronic acid infiltrations and PRP contrasts inflammation and pain, with mesenchymal cells, it is possible to regenerate new cartilage. Therefore they are congenial for a wide range of joint injuries (wrist, knee, shoulder, and knee). A study by King Abdulaziz University Hospital (Saudi Arabia) recently said that the use of autologous stem cells might improve the symptoms related to chronic and post-traumatic joint diseases or in the outcome of previous interventions.
What are the patients who can undergo this treatment?
The patients who can undergo this operation are above all those who have damage to the cartilage lining surface and with not too severe osteoarthritis.
What treatments does orthopedic regenerative Medicine provide?
In particular, Regenerative Medicine applied to joint injuries involves the removal of adipose tissue from the abdomen from which, using a special procedure, the mesenchymal cells are isolated, which, therefore, are implanted in the area where the cartilage is missing. The best results are chondral injuries of the knees and ankles up to the 3rd degree.
What are the horizons of regenerative Medicine?
In the future, with this treatment, it is hoped to be able to block joint degeneration and to be able to treat osteoarthritis no longer with prosthesis graft but by restoring a new cartilaginous surface to the degenerated or damaged joint.
Currently, mesenchymal cells are an important source for the regeneration of cartilage, connective tissues, and bone tissue; with regard to the latter, the horizon of scientific research involves the development of new implants that can implement and maximize the speed of cell reproduction, or, in less "technical" terms, accelerate the healing process of a specific injury.
Regenerative Medicine and Orthobiology
Regenerative Medicine is a discipline that is achieving many promising results in the field of tissue reconstruction and repair. In particular, the creation of Orthobiology, which combines Regenerative Medicine with Orthopedics, makes use of the patient's own tissues and cells. It allows them to avoid the degeneration of the joints and avoid their replacement with artificial prostheses.
How does it work?
When the first symptoms of arthrosis disorders occur, cellular precursors are collected from adipose tissue, bone marrow, and subcutaneous tissue. These cells are then introduced by injection into the joints to increase the concentration of the precursor cells in the joints. The procedure must be performed in the outpatient clinic and takes place under local anesthesia with minimally invasive techniques.
The benefits of this operation are as follows:
- The cells already present in the cartilage, muscle and tendon tissue of the joint are "reactivated," promoting their regeneration and regrowth;
- The injection of precursor cells allows you to burn and reduce pain in the joints;
Author: Vicki Lezama