Regenerative Medicine is a branch of molecular biology that deals with the creation of living, functional tissues used to replace or repair tissues or organs lost with disease, age, or congenital defects.
It gives us new hope in being able to restore the body’s normal functions by stimulating the immune system to repair the damaged tissues and organs. Many processes used in regenerative medicine involve the use of stem cells.
The field gives hope to:
- Better understanding of the development or progress of diseases. Diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease can be better understood in the lab with the possibility of new treatments.
- Using stem cell technology to speed up the development and testing of new cost effective drugs specific to disease.
- Developing treatment based on stem cells to enhance the repairing capability of the body.
- Constructing small body parts using stem cells, such as the cornea of the eye.
Regenerative medicine researches on the options of developing tissues and organs in the lab, and their implantation, when the body cannot rebuild them. As the organ’s cells are derived from the patient’s own cells or tissues, it can solve the problem of organ transplant rejection or provide needed organs in place of damaged ones.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are the cells from which other cells with specialized functions are produced. With appropriate conditions in the body or laboratory, stem cells divide through mitosis to form additional cells called “daughter cells”.
The daughter cells can either develop into new stem cells (self-renewal) or become specialized cells (differentiation), such as heart muscle cells, brain cells, blood cells or bone cells. Only stem cells have such capacity to divide and generate new cell types.
Stem cells are found in multicellular organisms, which include humans.
Sources of stem cells
- Embryonic stem cells: Present in embryos three to five days old.
- Adult stem cells: Present in adult tissues, such as bone marrow or fat. These cells have less ability to give rise to other body cells compared with embryonic stem cells.
- Perinatal stem cells: Present in amniotic fluid other than umbilical cord blood stem cells