U.S. Army scientists, working with medical technology companies, have successfully tested and used products and techniques that have enabled Army surgeons to replace the severely burned skin of soldiers as well as transplant new hands and even faces.
At Duke University, researchers are studying zebra fish to learn how science and medicine might someday be able to regenerate severed human spinal cords.
These examples — one already in practice and the other in the early research stages — illustrate the potential that regenerative medicine offers for the future of medical care.
This research aims to go beyond easing the pain of life-threatening illnesses by changing the way diseases affect the body and then eradicating them.
“The vast majority of currently available treatments for chronic and/or life-threatening diseases are palliative,” Morrie Ruffin, managing director of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM), told Healthline.
ARM, based in Washington, D.C., is considered the preeminent global advocate for regenerative and advanced therapies.
“Other treatments delay disease progression and the onset of complications associated with the underlying illness,” he said. “Very few therapies in use today are capable of curing or significantly changing the course of disease.
“Regenerative medicine has the unique ability to alter the fundamental mechanisms of disease, and thereby offer treatment options to patients where there is significant unmet medical need.”
And it has the potential to address the underlying causes of disease, Ruffin said, representing “a new and growing paradigm” in human health.
The field encompasses a number of different technologies, including cell, gene, and tissue-based therapies.