• By Susan Buckles

Diverse ways regenerative medicine is advancing health care

January 13, 2021
close up of a Mayo Clinic medical staff person wearing blue PPE gloves and consoling a patient in bed by touching their hand

Regenerative medicine contributed to patient care in 2020 more than ever before, bolstered by synergies in research, practice and education. Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Medicine is at the forefront of a biotherapy revolution in which health care advances from treating disease to restoring health.

"The centrality of the body to regenerate itself is paving the way for new horizons in regenerative care. The triad of protecting against disease, preventing disease progression and promoting healing is at the core of the regenerative vision," says Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D., director of Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Medicine. "To this end, the regenerative toolkit has grown more robust over the past year with new technologies now available to boost the body's ability to repair and restore health of an organ and importantly of the patient as a whole."

The convergence of research, practice and education, empowered by strong innovation and advanced biomanufacturing, is creating an increased level of readiness for applying validated regenerative science to new areas of health care, Dr. Terzic says.

Practice advancement

A deeper understanding of the biology of health and disease is driving the ongoing regenerative medicine evolution.

"The remarkable progress in science that is advancing our fundamental comprehension of both health and disease has guided the informed and responsible development of patient-ready curative strategies," says Dr. Terzic.

New discoveries at Mayo Clinic that may shape future practice include:

  • Validating safety and efficacy of stem cell therapy for heart failure

The largest regenerative medicine clinical trial to date for heart failure, spanning 39 medical centers and 315 patients from 10 countries, validated the long-term safety of stem cell therapy. The late-stage research found stem cell therapy shows particular benefit for patients with advanced left ventricular enlargement. This Mayo Clinic-led study offers guidance on which patients are most likely to respond to stem cell therapy for heart failure.

  • Uncovering stem cell activation of healing

Mayo Clinic researchers uncovered stem cell-activated molecular mechanisms of healing after a heart attack. Stem cells restored the makeup of failing cardiac muscle back to its condition before the heart attack, providing an intimate blueprint of how they may work to heal diseased tissue. This research offers utility to delineate and interpret complex regenerative outcomes.

  • Discovering a molecular 'light switch'

Mayo Clinic research discovered a molecular switch that turns on a substance that repairs neurological damage. This early research could bolster a therapy approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and that could lead to new strategies for treating diseases of the central nervous system such as multiple sclerosis.

The federal regulatory environment is making it possible to more seamlessly integrate new discoveries into the practice. The 21st Century Cures Act, for example, seeks to create an accelerated path to market for safe, validated procedures that could provide new therapies for patients with serious conditions.

Read the rest of this article on the Center for Regenerative Medicine blog.

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