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Patients confronted with injury or illnesses all have the same wish: to get better.
Whether they face the common cold, a cut, or cancer, a patient’s hope is that someday they can simply return to normal.
The human body has amazing regenerative capacity; wounds heal, broken bones weave together, and the immune system battles and eliminates infections. Ideal medical treatments would not require a lifetime of medication to mask or minimize symptoms; instead, they would address the problem at the source, fixing what can be repaired to help pave the way for the patient’s own body to regenerate itself.
Unfortunately, the body’s natural regenerative capacity is not enough when up against one of a myriad of serious ailments. Many conditions persist today that continue to cause death and disability despite decades of research using traditional pharmacologic therapies.
Stroke, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury result in permanent neurologic disability in over one million patients per year. Over six million Americans have congestive heart failure caused by damage to myocardial cells, for which only palliative therapies are currently available. Approximately 40,000 Americans a year are hospitalized for burn injuries, which can cause permanent deformation and scarring. Acute lung injury and respiratory distress syndrome are fatal in over 100,000 Americans each year, with minimal change in the 50% mortality rate and no new effective therapy in the last 50 years. These are but a few examples of diseases and injuries for which conventional therapies have no cure.
However, the young field of Regenerative Medicine seeks to utilize a new approach and novel technology to offer the hope of a cure for many conditions that have previously been regarded as permanent. Recent basic and pre-clinical research has demonstrated the potential of safely using cells to regenerate damaged tissues, improve healing, and combat adverse inflammatory systemic diseases.
Developments in biomaterials and treatment protocols promise to open new pathways in tissue regeneration, helping the body jumpstart its recovery.
The powerful combination of these new technologies could revolutionize medicine, providing permanent treatments that don’t simply mask symptoms, but truly allow to body to heal itself.