Regenerative medicine is the process of creating living, functional tissues to replace or repair tissue or organs that are damaged. This is a relatively new process and can promote rejuvenation in previously irreparable organs. The process begins by taking adult stem cells from a damaged organ or tissue sample, and combining them with an organic structure so the cells may replicate the organ or tissue that they originated from. Each cell has its own chemical make-up which will predetermine its eventual fate – thus a stem cell from a liver will begin the foundations for a new liver, whilst skin stem cells will grow to produce more skin. Regenerative medicine is key to the advancement of emergency medical procedures and the eventual eradication of chronic organ diseases.
Organ and tissue transplantation has come a long way since the first confirmed successful kidney transplant in 1954. Since then, doctors have been able to transplant a wide array of organs including hearts, livers, pancreases, and lungs as well as live donor lung and liver transplants. In Australia at any given time there are at least 1700 people on the Australian organ transplant waiting list, and the average wait for a transplant can be up to four years (Donation statistics, 2011). In 2009, 799 Australians received donated organs, although this seems like a high number it still leaves at least 900 people desperately waiting for organs (Organ Donor Register, 2011). Regenerative medicine has the ability to create and replace tissues in the body that have lost their ability to work proficiently due to disease, damage, or age. With correct implementation, organ donors may not be required in the future and patients will only need their own stem cells to regrow new organs and tissues. This may mean that each person has the potential to self-sufficiently replace their own organs if diseased or damaged.
A benefit of being able to produce a new organ using the recipient’s...
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