How Regenerative Medicine Works
Regenerative medicine products are built via a combination of three elements: living cells, a matrix to support the living cells (i.e. a scaffold), and cell communicators (or signaling systems) to stimulate the cells, and their surrounding environment to grow and develop into new tissue.
The foundation of regenerative medicine for either therapeutic or diagnostic applications is the ability to utilize living cells in a variety of ways. Regenerative medicine aims to restore function to diseased or damaged tissue by delivering living elements, which integrate into the patient and provide the necessary environment for the body to heal itself.
Unlike traditional treatment modalities, regenerative medicine products harness the body's own ability to self-repair and thus adapt to the physiology of the body.
The first element of a regenerative medicine product is the use of living cells.
The types of cells that are used are dependent on the type of tissue that needs to be repaired. Cells can originate from the patient being treated (autologous cells) or from a human donor (allogeneic cells). Regardless of cell type, the donated cells are multiplied millions of times to create large cell banks. Cells are then withdrawn from these cell banks to build a regenerative medicine construct.
The second element is the collagen matrix (or 3-D scaffold).
All cells within tissues are separated and interlinked by a matrix (or structure). The consistency of the matrix may vary from a liquid, as in blood; to semi-solid, as in cartilage; to a solid, as in bone. Tissue engineers either implant cells into a matrix or create the proper conditions for the living cells to build their own three dimensional matrix. Such a matrix provides the structure that supports the cells and creates the physiological environment for them to interact within the host tissue.
The third element consists of the cell communicators.
Cell communicators are proteins such as growth factors and cytokines. These cell communicators act as a signaling system which stimulates the cells into action and is responsible for activating the body's own native cells to initiate regeneration.