Monday, January 30, 2012

Regenerative Medicine

A creative new field is emerging in medicine called Regenerative Medicine. Regenerative Medicine involves manipulating cells in the human body in order to trigger them to grow into new tissues such as ears, lungs, hearts, and any other organ or body part imaginable. This has the prospect of helping war Veterans who have lost limbs during war or preventing people on the transplant list from dying while waiting for an organ. The possibilities are truly endless. I think this is unbelievably creative to take something that is already within a person and create something new for that person. The video from a segment on 60 Minutes explains in greater detail how the process works and more about the possibilities it has. 

A leading person in this new field is Dr. Anthony Atala. He is head of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. He was born in Peru, but grew up in Florida. His educational experiences obviously guided him in the direction of Regenerative Medicine, because was a fellow at Harvard Medical School, and therefore was affiliated with Boston's Children Hospital. It was here that he was under the guidance of two world-renowned pediatric surgeons that he also got involved as the Director of the Laboratory for Tissue Engineering and Cellular Therapeutics at the Children's Hospital. He continued this work after he finished his education and was employed by Wake Forest University. It is here that he lead the first team to create an organ, which happened to be a bladder, that was was implanted into a person successfully. Above is a picture of Dr. Atala. 

I feel that Dr. Atala and others who are developing this field even further are creative because this concept of Regenerative Medicine is an extremely novel idea. The thought of taking our own cells and making them recreate themselves is a brillant idea that involves a deep understanding of the human body and genetics specifically. Who would have ever thought that our cells would have the ability to do this? Not only is Regenerative Medicine novel, but it is also extremely appropriate. It is appropriate in the sense that it addresses the severe problem of thousands of people dying every year just waiting for an organ to become available and the tragedy of military living their lives without limbs because they were protecting our country. Regenerative Medicine has created a solution to these two problems by allowing our body to do what it has always known how to do, recreate itself using the genetic code. Above is a picture of an ear created through the process of Regenerative Medicine. 


  1. That 60 minutes clip is absolutely remarkable! I am wondering what you think of ECM and various approaches to regenerative medicine and their ability to create and heal a variety of different areas of the body? It is interesting how this innovation has risen out of a particular historical context (i.e., the war overseas), and serves a larger purpose of healing wounded soldiers. It will be very exciting to see where this research goes in the next few decades!

  2. When I first sat down to do my first post, I had thought of doing regenerative medicine myself, but I didn't want to steal your spotlight! Regenerative medicine, to me, is easily the coolest and most creative thing in the medical field right now. If we look at the definition of creativity we learned in class, a creative idea is one that solves a problem. One of the greatest problems a person can face is a problem with their own body, whether that problem be cancer or a failing organ. If we are able to create a solution to this problem, to create new body parts out of our own cells, what problem can't we solve? Technology like this makes me wonder why stem cells are not funded more. I think you put it best when you said we are taking something already inside us, and creating something new. Is that not what creativity is? I'm incredibly excited to see what the medical field will come up with next.


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