While regenerative medicine and tissue crafting are often cited in conjunction with one another, they are actually two separate areas of study within bioengineering and medicine. Experts in both regenerative medicine and tissue engineering are working together to find new and effective treatments (and even cures) for a host of challenging diseases and ailments. At Celixir, it’s important for us to discuss how the two differ to develop the best treatments for our patients.
What is Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative medicine encompasses several scientific disciplines, including molecular biology, genetics, immunology and biochemistry. Research is focused on replacing or repairing tissue and organs that have been damaged through diseases, trauma, genetic or chromosomal disorders, or age.
Whereas historically, efforts were focused on treating the symptoms of damaged tissue, regenerative medicine is focused on harnessing the body’s own regenerative capabilities to allow it to repair itself and restore to its normal function.
In order to do this, researchers have to first understand the qualities and mechanisms of stem cells, how they grow, differentiate and die, and how cells support one another. This allows them to understand how they can be utilised for clinical purposes in humans.
What is Tissue Engineering?
Similar to regenerative medicine, the focus of tissue engineering is in restoring, maintaining and improving functions of damaged tissues and organs. Unlike regenerative medicine, tissue engineering focuses on developing tissue outside of the body.
Researchers combine the principles of engineering and life sciences to find synthetic and naturally derived materials to create functional tissues in the lab and then apply them to the affected areas.
So, if regenerative medicine is reliant on the qualities and mechanism of stem cells, what’s tissue engineering reliant on? Cells, scaffolds (biodegradable structures that hold implanted cells in place until they develop into integrated tissue) and stimulation (growth factors or pulses that replicate conditions naturally found in the body).
The most commonly cited example of tissue engineering is artificial skin. But, the field is rapidly expanding as liver tissue, blood vessels, pulmonary tissue, and even neural tissues are being designed.
What Has Celixir Done?
At Celixir, we explore both in order to treat cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disorders. To treat adult patients with heart failure, we developed Heartcel, an immunomodulatory progenitor (iMP) cell therapy. Our Investigational New Drug application (IND) was approved by the FDA in June of this year, representing a significant regulatory milestone.
We also developed an investigational topical gel containing platelet lysate (obtained from human blood platelets) that’s capable of regenerating injured tendons near the surface of the skin and has successfully completed European Phase 2 trails in tennis elbow. Phase 3 trials are planned to start in late 2018.
While we’re incredibly proud of the work that we’ve done, the progress we’ve made, and the potential we have to help future patients, we are equally proud of companies, clinics and other research organisations just like Celixir around the world.
Dr. Rob Buckle, UKRMP Director and MRC Chief Science Officer, called regenerative medicine a ‘cure for tomorrow’ and we have to agree.
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