New Treatments, New Opportunities, New Potentials: Why We Study Regenerative Medicine (Part II)
The principles of regenerative medicine can be theoretically applied to any cell type in the body. This means that regenerative medicine holds the potential to treat most illnesses, conditions and diseases. Specifically, regenerative medicine can be used to grow or repair organs, whether it be in the context of congenital disease, physical injury or aging.
The potential of regeneration medicine and organ regrowth and repair
Treating organ dysfunction and failure, which can be caused by injuries sustained in car accidents, cancer, diabetes and sepsis, is one of the many powerful potentials of regenerative medicine. Currently, the only solution for organ failure is an organ transplant – in Australia, roughly 1,600 people sit on the waiting list. Grimly, there are not enough donors to meet this demand.
“The principles of regenerative medicine can be theoretically applied to any cell type in the body. This means that regenerative medicine holds the potential to treat most illnesses, conditions and diseases.”
As one of the goals of regenerative medicine is to find a way to create new body parts from a patient’s own cells and tissues, this would eliminate not only the demand for organs but also the complications arising from organ rejection. Organ rejection occurs when the immune system recognises a newly transplanted organ as ‘foreign,’ just as it would a bacterial infection, and begins to attack the new organ. Due to this, many organ transplant recipients are given drugs to suppress their immune system (immunosuppressive drugs), which in turn, makes them vulnerable to infections. According to the Australia and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Registry 2018 Report, kidney transplant rejection rates are approximately 17-18%. Regenerative medicine provides a new solution and opportunity to give those on long waiting lists who are currently expected to die before getting a chance at a new life while removing the risks of organ rejection and the complications related to immunosuppressive drugs.
“The potential of regenerative medicine to unlock new treatments, both preventative and curative, is powerful.”
New treatments for debilitating diseases
Similarly, this knowledge and set of tools and techniques could also be used to induce tissues or organs to repair themselves after damage. This could range from fixing bone fractures to replacing lost brain cells in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. These methods could reduce the need for invasive surgery, the risk of infection and other complications involved with using foreign material in the body, while helping people to heal and recover from these conditions.
The potential of regenerative medicine to unlock new treatments, both preventative and curative, is powerful. This is why scientists study regeneration- to improve the lives of all people living with diseases, illnesses and conditions.