Stem cell therapy’s conception is illusorily simple: take cells from a donor and put them into a patient to treat an ailment or injury. However, the reality falls far short of the dream.Regenerative medicine makes use of cells, bio materials and molecules to fix edifices in the body that do not function appropriately because of sickness or injury.
What sets regenerative medicine different from several traditional drugs is that the latter generally treat symptoms, whereas the former targets to treat the root cause of a patient’s disorder by interchanging lost cells or organs, or by fixing a defective gene. The appeal of regenerative medicine promises to redefine medical treatment, putting stem cells and bio compatible materials center stage in this upheaval. Several breakthroughs have been reported and hailed in scientific journals and the media over the years. However, the number of regenerative medicine treatments in medical use currently is poorly low and a panel of commissioners criticizes this lack of progress in a report published last week in The Lancet.
In fact, as per Prof. GiulioCossu, from the Division of Cell and Matrix Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and his fellow officials, only a handful of innovations have made it to patients and private clinics are cashing in on patients’ frantic search for treatments by offering unverified therapies. Why have so many possibilities of new therapies fallen short? And what will it take for society to profit from the immense potential that regenerative medicine holds?
The earliest form of cell therapy was the transfusion of blood, which is routine in most clinical settings at the present time.Next on the list was the transplantation of bone marrow, giving patients with radiation mutilation or blood cancers a chance to make new, healthy blood cells using the donor’s bone marrow stem cells.Cell therapy using a patient’s own cells is also used in circumstances of severe burn and scald injuries, when a patient does not have an adequate quantity of uncontaminated skin for skin graft treatment.Here, skin cells are isolated from a small biopsy and prolonged in a specialized laboratory. Millions of cells can be grown in a somewhat short time and relocated onto the burn wound to accelerate healing.But despite these accomplishments and the fact that scientists around the world are heatedly working on new therapies, regenerative medicine treatments have not entered mainstream medical practice in maximum zones of medicine.
As per the report in The Lancet, “the potential exists to substantially lessen the encumbrance of disease for some common disorders (e.g., stroke, heart disease, progressive neurological conditions, autoimmune diseases, and trauma).”And, “As well as increasing life expectation, regenerative medicine therapies could momentously improve the health-related quality of life of countless patients with chronic sicknesses.”So, what is holding back these developments?
From Research to Medical Practice
An army of scientists from across the globe is working on new regenerative medicine solutions to common ailments and injuries.In the past year alone, Medical News Today reported on a chip technology that can change one cell type into another and heal whole organs, a new technique of spray painting bio materials onto impaired hearts using minimally invasive surgery, and a growth factor that may reverse osteoporosis.Yet the list of approved cellular and gene therapy products on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website is astoundingly short: it has only 15 entries.The road from successful research to medical practice is lengthy, as health authorities such as the FDA, who grant approval for a new therapy, must be gratified that a new treatment is safe and works.
Regenerative medicine treatments incline to be quitecostlyas they often need special production facilities and highly experienced staff. With health budgets squeezed in several nations, high costs are a barricade to making such therapies a reality.”Huge benefits may be acquired from regenerative medicine but at enormous cost, and affordability may limit implementation, even if there is a good prospect of cost savings down the line,” the commissioners clarified.