Shortage of donor organs is worsening year by year as the global population ages, leading to an increase in the number of organ failures. Each day, an average of seventy-nine people undergo transplantation surgeries whereas an average of 22 people die waiting for an organ due to the shortage. This severe shortage of transplantable organs can be overcome by applying cell transplantation and bio engineering techniques to construct biological substitutes that will restore normal function in diseased or injured tissues.
Regeneration means the re-growth of a damaged or missing organ part from the remaining tissue. Humans have the ability to regenerate certain organs such as the liver and skin. For example if a part of the liver is lost by disease or injury, the liver grows back to its original size. “Regenerative Medicine” is the term used to refer to methods to replace or regenerate human cells, tissues or organs in order to restore their usual function. Efforts into the field of regenerative medicines depend on using the natural, evolved behavior of human cells. From the middle of the last century, researchers began to exploit the additional features of the human body such as the ability of stem cells to regenerate the missing tissues.
Today Regenerative medicine has wide range of applications in fields such as Dermatology, Cardiology, Oncology, Central Nervous System and diabetes. For example tissue engineered skin is being used for skin replacement, treatment for diabetic leg and foot ulcers and temporary wound cover for burns. Tissue engineered bladder derived from the patients can be cultured outside the body and successfully transplanted. Tissue-engineered vascular grafts which are used for heart bypass surgery and cardiovascular disease treatment are at pre clinical trial stage. Tissue engineered products are being used in various ways, to induce bone and connective tissue growth, guide long bone regeneration and replace damaged knee cartilage.
It is estimated that there are around 1,900 active cell therapy clinical trials, targeting indications such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, vision impairment, spinal cord injury, chronic wounds, neurodegenerative disease and severe burns and about 325 active industry sponsored cell therapy clinical studies including 75 cell based immunotherapy studies. The activity in the regenerative medicine industry has been intensifying in the past few years. Some of the key events that transformed the Regenerative medicines industry in 2015 are
- Celgene paid $1B to partner with Juno Therapeutics in the development and commercialization of immunotherapies
- Fujifilm acquires Cellular Dynamics International
- Intrexon signed a collaboration with the National Cancer Institute to develop engineered lymphocytes that have inducible IL-12 expression
- Kite Pharma acquires T Cell Factory and its T cell receptor (TCR) discovery platform for $21 million.
The long-term goal of regenerative medicine is to bring a world where there is no organ shortage, where victims of spinal cord injuries can walk and weakened hearts can be replaced. Regenerative medicine has the potential to transform the treatment of human disease through the development of innovative new therapies that offer a faster, more complete recovery with significantly fewer side effects or risk of complications. Foreseeable developments in the near future of regenerative medicine include Insulin-producing pancreatic islets that can be regenerated in the body or grown in the laboratory and implanted, creating the potential for a cure for diabetes; tissue-engineered heart muscle which may be available to repair human hearts damaged by attack or disease and new approaches that revitalize worn-out body parts including, removing all of the cells from an organ and infusing new cells to integrate into the existing matrix and restore full functionality.
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