Genesis Regenerative Medicine is a branch of cellular and molecular science that deals with the ‘development of new cells, tissues, organs or structures to restore, repair or create normal function’. The field was first identified at Stanford University as a subfield of stem cell biology and has since then been recognized as its own entity. The focus of regenerative medicine is on the restoration of function in the body; hence its title. Although the focus of regenerative medicine lies primarily on how to regenerate, there are many areas where this field is also applicable; such as cell and tissue engineering, cloning and gene therapy.
Regenerative Medicine focuses on the repair or restoration of tissue from damage or disease, to repair or rebuild. This form of treatment is particularly effective in treating disorders of the skin, brain, heart, lungs and kidneys, but also in the treatment of congenital diseases and cancer, in which the body repairs or replaces missing or damaged parts.
In terms of tissue engineering, regenerative medicine seeks to repair or replace the body’s ability to regenerate and repair itself by using the body’s own resources. Cells are used to create tissues that are made to look and feel like the original tissue. This includes replacement of limbs, organs, muscle and tissue in cases of accidents or diseases that have rendered them unable to function correctly.
Regenerative medicine also addresses the issue of how to regenerate tissue through the use of cloning. A patient may suffer from a debilitating illness and thus require the transplant of a limb. Unfortunately, it is not possible to clone the organ or limb of a donor. Regenerative Medicine aims to use a patient’s own cells to create a fully functioning limb, and if successful, to provide that limb to the donor.
Regenerative Medicine is also concerned with the generation of stem cells, which are genetically altered in a laboratory to replace a damaged or dying part of the body. This is done by introducing a gene into the body that allows the cells to multiply. Stem cells can then be used to produce healthy tissue for reconstructing a specific part of the body, such as limbs or organs. If the technique succeeds in regenerating a part of the body, the patient will be able to live normally again. The key element is that the tissue being made is genetically similar to the donor’s tissue.
Regenerative Medicine is an incredibly fascinating area of medical science, but also one that is fraught with controversy. The fact that regenerative medicine involves the manipulation of the body in order to restore function, or even cure disease, means that the field is controversial to some degree.