Regenerative Medicine Grows on You
January 20, 2003
The era of regenerative medicine is upon us, say experts. Rapidly advancing medical knowledge is leading to the development of powerful new gene-based therapies that will transform medical practice, allowing most people to live much longer and healthier lives.
There will be four stages or types of medical interventions, in this medical revolution:
- Current type 1 regenerative medicines include such important recombinant drugs as human insulin, interferon, human growth hormone and erythropoietin, a substance that stimulates the formation of red blood cells.
- In type 2 regenerative medicine, cells will be removed from the body, grown in culture, then reintroduced into patients.
- The defining feature of type 3 regenerative medicine is embryonic stem cells, special cells obtained from very early stage human embryos.
- Rapid progress in materials science underlies type 4 regenerative medicine, in which novel materials engineered to atomic-scale precision will integrate seamlessly with our own cells.
Regenerative medicine may become the most powerful tool available to improve the human condition. It will use the body's own substances and cells to repair, restore and rejuvenate it. Once society is fully aware of the staggering potential of regenerative medicine, say advocates, it is unlikely to decline the promise that it offers.
Source: William A. Hasseltine, "Regenerative Medicine: A Future Healing Art," Brookings Review, Winter 2003.
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