Every year, the scientific community celebrates thousands of feats. With each successful study or experiment, we take humanity one step forward. The medical community witnessed countless accomplishments in the last couple of years that seem like science fiction.
It’s crazy to think about how easy it is to cure or fix conditions that were once debilitating – or even lethal in some cases. Many diseases and injuries remain “irreversible” in the eyes of our modern medicine. What may surprise you is that researchers already made significant headway on fixing these damages.
Sometimes, the solution lies within us all along.
Our Natural Defense
All living things have a natural repairing system. You don’t entirely fall apart after an injury. When the body faces damages, your biology jumps into action to defend and repair yourself. It’s pretty incredible when you think about how the body naturally fuses bones or skin back together.
Of course, these actions take time and resources to reduce your mobility or overall function for some time. Additionally, there are some things that the body cannot heal. Unfortunately, some parts of your body are precious and difficult to replace or repair.
Some injuries or diseases are beyond our natural scope of power. If there is anything humans have learned in the last few centuries, science pushes these boundaries. We are challenging what humans expect from living revolutionized our way of life. We have innovative resources that redefine our understanding of recovery periods and quality of life. It’s only a matter of time before future generations look back to our way of life in shock at our lived conditions. Humankind progresses and builds off itself.
While there are tons of ancient practices we continue to respect and practice, like visiting a chiropractor or acupuncturist, there are countless novel treatments developed every day.
Exploring the field of regenerative medicine is an excellent way to see what science is doing and gain an understanding of what we can expect from the future.
What is Regenerative Medicine?
The field of regenerative medicine approaches treatments in a similar way to our natural abilities. Dr. Pallavi Cherukupally expertly explores the topic in her recent article, Brave New World: How Regenerative Medicine Could Change How We Treat Patients.
The core principle of the field is that doctors want to help the body heal more efficiently. This concept encompasses a vast range of possibilities. Its aim is “to restore the function and structural integrity of damaged organs and tissues.”
There are some regenerative medical treatments performed all over the world. Others are still in their infancy or theoretical stages but made significant progress. It’s surprising to think about the accomplishments going on right under our noses.
The Treatments of Today:
Cells make up everything in our bodies. While many types of cells occasionally replace themselves, there are some cases where people need a little help. When healthy cells become depleted, using cell therapy is an effective solution. By transplanting healthy cells at targeted sites, body function usually resumes. Of course, this is oversimplifying the procedure a bit. With modern cell therapy, you need to find a donor that’s healthy and compatible. A well-known example is when a cancer patient needs healthy bone marrow.
Finding a compatible donor is an obstacle to many treatments. This difficulty is incredibly real for those in need of a new organ. Unlike cells, harvesting organs often requires total removal. Many transplant patients receive their new organs from cadavers. The process is long, stressful, and not 100% effective. In some cases, someone’s body rejects seemingly compatible organs. Rejection leads to even more problems resulting in a need for more surgeries or even death.
The best way to combat rejection requires a “donor” with complete compatibility. Who is more compatible with you than yourself? That’s the idea behind this regenerative medicine approach that harvests your cells. Using personal body tissue and sophisticated molds, scientists created artificial organs grown in a lab. Several lucky patients have functioning bladders due to these procedures.
The treatments of tomorrow:
Lab-grown heart valves:
Several ongoing studies are exploring other organs. Organs vary in complexity, so some are more difficult to recreate than others. Although they are still in experimental phases, lab-grown heart valves are a real possibility for the future. Scientists grew functioning valves in labs, and it’s only a matter of time and trials before doctors use these in human surgeries. If all continues to go well, rejection may be a thing of the past.
Spinal cord injury treatments:
Using your cells may restore more than damaged or diseased organs. Spinal cord injuries may be reversible in the future of human medicine. Following an automobile or motorcycle accident, we expect some injuries. In extreme cases, victims experience spinal cord damage.
Spinal cord damage will result in nervous tissue. In some cases, this means permanent numbness of extremities. In more unfortunate events, this means paralysis. Many researchers believe that cell therapy may address these seemingly irreversible problems. Although many kinks work out in these procedures, many believe stem cells hold the solution to an injury as old as time.
Imagine if treating quadriplegia was as easy as treating whiplash or a herniated disc. Although we are a long way from this reality, it’s important to celebrate the accomplishments we already made. Until then, we must continue to support science and facilitate progress.
Midtown Medical is launching a new podcast series called Midtown Medical Talks that connect with our audience at home during these uncertain times. Midtown Medical Talks is a personal injury medical and law informational podcast channel that offers next-level entertainment and business news to its listeners. Hosted by our Midtown Medical team, we are now streaming on all major listening platforms.