Regenerative Medicine

Introduction

Organ and tissue loss through disease and injury motivate the development of therapies that can regenerate tissues and decrease reliance on transplantations. Regenerative medicine, an interdisciplinary field that applies engineering and life science principles to promote regeneration, can potentially restore diseased and injured tissues and whole organs. Since the inception of the field several decades ago, a number of regenerative medicine therapies, including those designed for wound healing and orthopedics applications, have received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and are now commercially available. These therapies and other regenerative medicine approaches currently being studied in preclinical and clinical settings will be covered in this review. Specifically, developments in fabricating sophisticated grafts and tissue mimics and technologies for integrating grafts with host vasculature will be discussed. Enhancing the intrinsic regenerative capacity of the host by altering its environment, whether with cell injections or immune modulation, will be addressed, as well as methods for exploiting recently developed cell sources.

Use of Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine has the potential to heal or replace tissues and organs damaged by age, disease, or trauma, as well as to normalize congenital defects. Promising preclinical and clinical data to date support the possibility for treating both chronic diseases and acute insults, and for regenerative medicine to abet maladies occurring across a wide array of organ systems and contexts, including dermal wounds, cardiovascular diseases and traumas, treatments for certain types of cancer, and more. The current therapy of transplantation of intact organs and tissues to treat organ and tissue failures and loss suffers from limited donor supply and often severe immune complications, but these obstacles may potentially be bypassed through the use of regenerative medicine strategies

The field of regenerative medicine encompasses numerous strategies, including the use of materials and de novo generated cells, as well as various combinations thereof, to take the place of missing tissue, effectively replacing it both structurally and functionally, or to contribute to tissue healing. The body’s innate healing response may also be leveraged to promote regeneration, although adult humans possess limited regenerative capacity in comparison with lower vertebrates.

Therapies in the market

Since tissue engineering and regenerative medicine emerged as an industry about two decades ago, a number of therapies have received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance or approval and are commercially available.

The delivery of therapeutic cells that directly contribute to the structure and function of new tissues is a principle paradigm of regenerative medicine to date.

The cells used in these therapies are either autologous or allogeneic and are typically differentiated cells that still maintain proliferative capacity. For example, Carticel, the first FDA-approved biologic product in the orthopedic field, uses autologous chondrocytes for the treatment of focal articular cartilage defects.

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