We are living, breathing creatures capable of self-healing in so many ways. Nothing brings this notion home more than human cell regeneration and a field of medicine exploring stem cells and the cell regeneration impact factor. What is regenerative medicine all about, anyhow?
Every single one of us has the ability to regenerate our cells. We’re programmed for it. That’s how we grow and develop and heal. Look at is this way: Everyone completely regenerates their own skin every seven days. When you cut yourself, it heals and disappears in a week or so. That’s skin cell regeneration.
Our bones and ligaments, too, are living, breathing material. Every single cell in our skeleton is replaced every seven years. We’re not able to regrow a whole leg or arm, however, and many other human tissues don’t regenerate. (A young salamander, on the other hand, can regrow a whole leg in about five weeks!) A main goal in regenerative medicine is to find ways to kick-start tissue regeneration in the body, or to engineer replacement tissues.
In fact, scientists, doctors and futurists around the world contend that the future of medicine lies in understanding how the body creates itself out of a single cell and the mechanisms it uses to renew itself throughout life. This way, we can replace damaged tissues and intervene to help the body regenerate itself – the potential exists to cure or ease the symptoms of people with disorders like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, spinal cord injury and cancer.
It’s happening right now, with researchers experimenting with stem cells – adult cells that can develop into many different types of tissue – to coax the people’s bodies to actually heal themselves. There has been reported success in treating congestive heart disease and regrowing muscles in soldiers wounded in explosions.
Cell Regeneration: What Organs Can Be Regrown?
There’s a wide range of stem cell-based therapies underway. Scientists have created tissue patches for burn victims. Diabetics have damaged beta cells, so beta cell regeneration has been a focus. Scientists have grown what are called islet cells that produce insulin to treat diabetes and there have been hundreds of islet cell transplants.
With Alzheimer’s disease and dementia on the rise, brain cell regeneration is another top focus. Scientists have also developed healthy brain cells to ease the symptoms of disorders like Parkinson’s disease. Top minds around the world have been able to genetically change cells and use them to deliver healing or protective agents to injured or diseased areas of the body.
We can help protect our cells and regenerate them well by eating anti-inflammatory foods.
An international team of Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators, for example, has discovered a way to regenerate heart tissue. Instead of managing heart damage with medication, stem cell therapy can fix the heart itself. Stem cells are harvested from a patient’s bone marrow, they undergo a lab treatment that guides them into becoming cardiac cells, and then they are injected into the patient’s heart to grow healthy heart tissue.