- By Dana Sparks
Discovery’s Edge: Renaissance in medicine
Renaissance means rebirth or regeneration. Every few generations medicine takes a major turn. We’re at one of those junctures now with regenerative medicine — where healing is triggered from within the human body. It’s bringing a whole new universe to how physicians provide care.
Deer grow, shed and then regrow their antlers. Sea stars sacrifice but then regrow their arms. This is regeneration, and every species — from amoeba to human — is inherently capable of it to some degree (think fresh, smooth skin forming below a scab).
By getting down to the nitty-gritty of how cells differentiate and muster to form tissues and organs, researchers have turned the corner on understanding the way regeneration works. Engineers have come up with techniques for assembling cells into large, three-dimensional structures, and for building automated bioreactors (culture vessels) for mass production of cells and engineered tissues. Now, a patient’s own cells can be harvested, tweaked, and used to help regrow their missing or damaged tissues, and even to make lab-grown organs for transplant.
Regenerative medicine helps bodies mend themselves, providing cures for people who have been living — until now — without treatment options. It’s a whole new realm of healing. Read the rest of the article.
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