As you’ve probably heard us mention a time or two, Burst Biologics is in the business of regenerative medicine – and yes, it’s as cool as it sounds!
But what does regenerative medicine mean?
At its core, it’s all about helping human cells, tissues, and organs work properly. This branch of medicine focuses on the way cells live and function every day.
Compared to the whole of medicine, this is one field that’s quite new. However, forms of regenerative medicine have been practiced for more than 1000 years, and were acknowledged conceptually even in Ancient Greece. Remember Prometheus and his regenerating liver?
Of course, what we think of as regenerative medicine today is closely associated with the emergence of tissue engineering back in the late 1980s. It’s all based on the way cells work.
The Magical Regenerating Cell
You have trillions of cells in your body, and they’re constantly regenerating. That’s the basic explanation for why you can donate blood, get a haircut, or heal from a broken bone.
Some types of cells replace themselves quickly, like the stomach cell’s two to nine day lifespan. Others last much longer, like the four month renewal rate for red blood cells.
But in any case, the concept of regenerative medicine hinges on this idea of regenerating cells.
Defining Regenerative Medicine
So, to better understand regenerative medicine, we need to consider what would happen if a group of cells in your body weren’t operating at their best. Conceptually, what could we do to fix that problem?
From the purview of regenerative medicine, it comes down to two general remedies.
One clear solution is to replace the deficient cells or tissues with healthy ones. That’s essentially what an organ transplant is. If you have a failing kidney, swapping it out for a new one can rapidly restore functionality.
Replacement can be difficult, expensive, and invasive – but sometimes, it’s the only recourse available to patients with serious damage to their tissue or organs. With regenerative medicine, it’s possible to grow the new tissue that’s needed for replacement.
Another option is to regenerate the tissues and encourage self-healing. With this approach, you’re simply helping the body do what it normally could do, kind of like filling up the gas tank in a car that’s stalling.
One of our products is a fluid that aids and supports various mechanisms which encourage bone consolidation. Obviously, the body already knows how to heal bones, but this product aids in regulating the micro-environment to be one that encourages bone consolidation so that patients recover more quickly.
If you were to see what’s happening at a cellular level, you’d notice signaling molecules like growth factors and cytokines swooping onto the scene of an injury. These cytokines interact with cell receptors in local host cells, and can trigger a response indicative of wound healing. Basically, almost as if leading by example, these healthier cells demonstrate the way the host cells should be working, encouraging them to get back to their former, healthy selves.
The field of regenerative medicine relies heavily on advances in tissue engineering, and exemplifies plausible use cases for cellular and a-cellular allografts. But you’ve probably heard a good deal of talk about “stem cells”, and wonder how that plays a part. A good way to think of regenerative medicine is as if it’s a company, in a thriving economy. This one company is made up of different departments, and within those departments are different job descriptions and different individuals filling them.
The focus for regenerative medicine has been on “stem cells”, here at Burst Biologics we believe that’s not the best way to look at regenerative medicine. It’s so much more than that. Instead, try to think of stem cells as a single worker, in a single department, of a whole company. Yes, it does its part. Yes, it makes the whole team complete. But the rest of the team isn’t relying on the existence of that one worker to do their own jobs.
The Future of Regenerative Medicine
The potential applications of regenerative medicine are truly profound. With tissue engineering and regenerative medicine products, physicians have the building blocks they need to change, repair, and grow damaged tissue in patients.
Previously impossible treatments are theoretically possible using regenerative medicine, reversing the effects of aging, organ failure, chronic wounds, and lifestyle diseases. The future of regenerative medicine – and the medical field as a whole – has never been brighter!