Applications of regenerative medicine

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Applications of regenerative medicine

Regenerative medicine is an emerging multidisciplinary field that aims to restore, maintain or enhance tissues and hence organ functions. Regenerative medicine has brought high expectations for a great number of current worldwide human illnesses. Diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, spine injuries or cancer, might in the near future be treated with methods that aim at regenerating diseased or damaged tissues. The perspective of regenerating damaged or nonfunctional tissues by using an off-the-shelf synthetic product is a drive for medical science.

Tissue engineering combines the principles of cell transplantation, material science, and bioengineering to develop new biological substitutes that may restore and maintain normal organ function. Tissue engineering strategies generally fall into two categories: the use of acellular matrices, which serve as guides for proper orientation and direction of new tissue growth but depend on the body’s natural ability to regenerate, and the use of the matrices seeded with cells.

Cells can also be used for therapy via injection, either with a carrier such as a hydrogel, or alone. In addition cells can be used for matrix-based tissue engineering strategies. For this purpose, a small piece of donor tissue is dissociated into individual cells. The cells are either implanted directly into the host, or they are expanded in culture, attached to a support matrix, and then the cell-matrix construct is implanted into the host. The source of donor tissue can be heterologous (xenogeneic source such as bovine), allogeneic (same species, different individual), or autologous.

Nanomaterials used in biomedical applications include nanoparticles for molecules delivery (drugs, growth factors, DNA), nanofibres for tissue scaffolds, surface modifications of implantable materials or nanodevices, such as biosensors. The combination of these elements within tissue engineering (TE) is an excellent example of the great potential of nanotechnology applied to regenerative medicine. The ideal goal of regenerative medicine is the in vivo regeneration or, alternatively, the in vitro generation of a complex functional organ consisting of a scaffold made out of synthetic or natural materials that has been loaded with living cells. Ideally, stem cells are to be used owing to their ability to generate all types of tissues and their unlimited self-renewal capacity. The functionalisation of such a porous scaffold with different biomolecules(depending on the targeted cells) or the entrapment of nanoparticles, such as growth factors, drugs or genes, could enhance the success of the TE strategy greatly.