Car accidents. Injuries in sports. Sudden falls. Although these three situations may seem unrelated, they are issues that can ultimately result in broken bones or fractures. Fractures can sometimes take multiple weeks to months to heal completely; however, further research into the field of medical
science has displayed that new innovations may aid in speeding up the overall healing process. Such innovations are primarily centered on developments in regenerative medicine. (1)
One way in which regenerative medicine has been helpful is through the treatment of spina bifida. Spina bifida is defined as a type of defect resulting in the improper development of both the spine and spinal cord. Individuals can be tested for spina bifida before birth. Not utilizing any form of treatment can result in wide-scale negative consequences, including issues with cognitive development and level of mobility. The UC Davis Health chair of surgery, Diana Farmer, and a stem cell bioengineer named Aijun Wang in conjunction with a clinical fetal treatment team headed by Shinjiro Hirose devised a means of using a type of stem cell patch to coat exposed spinal cords, allowing for tissue regeneration over time. Such stem cells have been made by using the cells found in placenta. In addition to the physiological benefits associated with using this new type of treatment, there are also economic advantages to the stem cell patch. Treatment of spina bifida averages around more than $500,000, so utilizing such an innovation could prevent a greater financial burden. (2)
In more elderly individuals, other conditions such as sarcopenia may manifest. Sarcopenia is defined as a decline in both muscle strength and muscle mass as a result of aging. Issues associated with sarcopenia involve a more limited walking speed, issues with mobility, and problems with typical tasks like standing up from sitting in a chair. Physiologically, elderly individuals with sarcopenia could experience declines in levels of growth hormone and testosterone. Both of these hormones are associated with muscle strength. In contrast, levels of hormones promoting limits in muscle activity, such as pro-inflammatory cytokines, may increase. In response to such issues, researchers developed selective androgen receptor agonists, or SARMs, for women facing sarcopenia. Following treatment with SARMs, lean body mass generally increased but not in comparison to the placebo. Despite this, other regenerative medical treatments are being developed to treat sarcopenia in the elderly, and previous research has already shown promising results, including the monoclonal antibody developed by Novartis and the SARM of Viking Therapeutics. (3)
Overall, from treating smaller humans to aiding the elderly, regenerative medicine has been widely beneficial. Further research of this topic could fuel developments that bring about tangible advantages in the near future.
Thank you so much for reading!
Miller, Ram R., and Ronenn Roubenoff. "Emerging interventions for elderly patients—The promise of regenerative medicine." Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics 105.1 (2019): 53-60.