Wouldn’t it be great if we could regrow damaged parts of our body? It might sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but medicine has actually progressed to the point where this is possible, at least in a limited form.
Regenerative medicine is the term used to describe these types of therapies that essentially help the body repair itself at the cellular level using the body’s natural cell repair mechanisms. This approach to healing is still somewhat new, but there is a lot of potential to use it to treat previously untreatable diseases and birth defects.
Research into using regenerative medicine techniques has expanded dramatically in recent years, with some highly effective therapies becoming available to patients. Let’s take a look at how regenerative medicine works and some of the more common applications available today.
How Does Regenerative Medicine Work?
Regenerative medicine works by replacing tissues in organs that have been damaged by disease, injury, or hereditary issues. It is different from other treatment approaches in that it seeks to heal the damaged organs directly, instead of treating the condition’s symptoms. Depending on the treatment methodology, regenerative medicine works at either the cellular or the DNA level by using the body’s natural repair mechanisms.
Types of Regenerative Medicine
There are three cutting-edge technologies used that fall under the regenerative medicine category.
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)
An injection therapy that uses the patient’s own platelets and plasma to speed up the healing process in joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Platelets are a type of blood cell, while plasma is the liquid part of the blood that is rich in proteins. In PRP therapy, some of the patient’s blood is withdrawn and then run through a centrifuge to concentrate and activate the platelets. The activated plasma then is reinjected directly to the injured or damaged organ, which increases the number of reparative cells and accelerates healing in the targeted area.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stems cells are the basic building block cells of the body and can basically become any other type of cell. While embryonic stem cells remain a controversial area of science and medicine, you may be surprised to learn that adults have stem cells, too. Found in small quantities in adult tissues such as bone marrow and fat (the two most common places for harvesting them), adult stem cells are a bit more limited in their use than embryonic stem cells.
That said, adult stem cells have proven to be effective in treating degenerative diseases, including heart disease, spinal cord injuries, osteoarthritis, and others. The treatment works by harvesting adult stem cells, multiplying and manipulating them for specific use in a lab, and then injecting them into the damaged organ. The new cells can then contribute to and speed up healing in the organ.
While these treatments are still relatively new, ongoing research is finding more and more uses for stem cells all the time and is one of the most promising areas for future treatments.
Perhaps one of the most cutting-edge regenerative medicine therapies, Exomes work to repair the body at the DNA level. Exosomes are part of a person’s genome that contains small packages of cellular signals designed to allow the body to stay optimized. They contain proteins such as growth factors, enzymes, and transcription factors that stabilize cell structure, function, and signaling.
Exosomes contain messenger RNA (mRNA- Blueprint for proteins) and micro RNA (miRNA- Assists in sending signals between cells). They allow for the transportation of these proteins to their target cells to assist in optimizing cell function.
Exosome therapy has anti-inflammatory, regenerative, and tissue remodeling effects by providing genetic material and instructions to damaged areas of the body, which in turn promotes healing.
Of course, the answer to this question depends on your particular condition. Regenerative medicine therapies treat a wide range of conditions, and are generally used in cases where first-line therapies haven’t succeeded. If you’re interested in learning more about regenerative medicines, schedule a consultation with one of our specialists. We’re happy to discuss your conditions and possible therapies to help you get back to living the life you want.