Regenerative Medicine: Past and Present
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Novel therapies resulting from regenerative medicine and tissue engineering technology may offer new hope for patients with injuries, end-stage organ failure, degenerative disorders and many other clinical issues. Currently, patients suffering from diseased and injured organs are treated with transplanted organs. However, there is a shortage of donor organs that is worsening yearly as the population ages and new cases of organ failure increase. Scientists in the field of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering are now applying the principles of cell transplantation, material science, and bioengineering to construct biological substitutes that can restore and maintain normal function in diseased and injured tissues. In addition, the stem cell field is a rapidly advancing part of regenerative medicine, and new discoveries in this field create new options for this type of therapy. For example, new types of stem cells, such as amniotic fluid and placental stem cells, that can circumvent the ethical issues associated with embryonic stem cells have been discovered. The process of somatic cell nuclear transfer and the creation of induced pluripotent cells provide still other potential sources of stem cells for cell-based tissue engineering applications. While stem cells are still in the research phase, some therapies arising from tissue engineering endeavors that make use of autologous, adult cells have already entered the clinical setting, indicating that regenerative medicine holds much promise for the future.