|Regenerative therapy, called
tissue engineering or regenerative medicine, is a medical
treatment which produces new tissues, apparatus, or
organs by using human cells (for example, embryonic
stem cells and somatic stem cells). It tries to restore
or repair tissues or organs in which function was damaged
by diseases, aging, etc.
Now we can see a sort of boom in tissue or cell engineering,
and lots of venture companies are performing research for practical
It is expected that a number of disorders that have been difficult
to treat may become curable by reproduction therapy.
Basic research is ongoing on a wide range of diseases: myocardial
infarction, cerebral infarction, hepatic cirrhosis, renal failure,
blood vessel disorders, leukaemia, arthritis, and burns.
In our laboratory, studies on stem cell engineering are proceeding
mainly for cosmetic purposes.
A stem cell is a multipotent cell
which can be a source to reproduce new tissue or
Unlike a somatic cell whose commitment is already determined,
a stem cell maintains its ability to differentiate into various
cells and ability to divide many times (almost permanently).
Stem cells can be divided into two categories; 1) embryonic
stem cells (known as ES cells), which have ability to differentiate
into any cell in the body, and 2) somatic (tissue) stem cells,
which can be transformed into cells within a certain range,
such as mesoderm.
Many studies on ES cells have been done on both cloned animals
However, a lot of problems are still left in clinical application
of ES cells at present.
On the other hand, for the somatic stem cells, there is little
worry of malignant change, and it is thought that clinical
application is close because it is easy to treat once its
use is determined.
In somatic stem cells, there are hematopoietic stem cells,
neural stem cells or mesenchymal stem cells, and they are
mainly obtained from bone marrow or umbilical blood in neonates,
but, in fact, are present to most tissues in the body.
They can also be obtained from fat tissue or skin.
The mesenchymal stem cells can differentiate into bone, cartilage,
fat, skeletal muscles, cardiac muscles, tendons, ligaments,
Such tissues and apparatus are important in cosmetic medicine.
With further research, it may be possible someday to use
stem cells for purposes which were impossible to achieve.
We can someday do,,,
1) Wrinkle treatment with auto-collagen or auto-hyaluronic
2) Injection of reproduced fat cells
3) Augmentation of nose or chin with auto-cartilage
4) Hair reproduction
5) Systemic rejuvenation (stem cell replacement therapy)
There are some parts which we cannot discuss in details due
to issues regarding patents and commercial interests.
A day may come when we can use cells taken from the body
when young for various purposes as we age.