The NIH defines regenerative medicine as stem cells and other technologies, such as engineered biomaterials and gene editing, to repair or replace damaged cells, tissues, or organs. The term “regenerative medicine” was first used in a 1992 academic paper in the context of technologies that would impact hospitals, but the concept reaches back further. And if you’re a salamander, which you probably aren’t if you’re reading this, regeneration is just a fact of tail life. Fun fact for humans, though: we actually have the ability to regenerate a severed fingertip until the age of 11 or so.
In the early 20th century, exposure to X-rays revealed a significant problem: the discovery that radiation damaged tissue that did not heal. The tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II showed the intense, devastating short- and long-term effects of radiation. Studying radiation exposure has taught us more about the human body and its ability to heal ever since. In 1951, a study headed by E. Shelton demonstrated that animals can survive lethal doses of radiation if injected with bone marrow cells shortly after exposure. That led to further research, and the following highlights in regenerative medicine advancements indicate the trajectory of the field:
1968 – First cell transplantation: bone marrow transplant
1978 – Discovery of stem cells in human cord blood
1981 – First in vitro stem cell line developed from mice; first engineered tissue transplantation (skin)
1996 – Creation of the first cloned animal (Dolly the sheep)
1998 – Isolation of human embryonic stem cells
1999 – First laboratory-grown organ (bladder)
2007 -Discovery of stem cells derived from amniotic fluid and placenta
2009 – First solid organ engineered by recycling a donor’s liver
Regenerative medicine as a field has expanded considerably in the last decade or so, and it continues to evolve. The same is true for Genesis Biologics, which has been offering solutions to doctors and their patients since 2009. We pride ourselves on sourcing the highest quality products safely and with leading-edge technology. Visit our Regenerative Products page to learn about our Amnion and PRP offerings.
Adapted from G. Sampognaa, S.Y. Gurayab, & A. Forgione (2015). Regenerative medicine: Historical roots and potential strategies in modern medicine. Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure 3(3), 101-107. Accessed via: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213879X1500053X