The New York Times has been running a very interesting 3 part series called "Body builders", exploring the world of stem cells and regenerative medicine.
Each part focuses on one aspect of regenerative medecine and stem cell research, from tissue and organs grown in the lab to organ and tissue growth in the body itself.
"A First: Organs Tailor-Made With Body's Own Cells"
Implanting a “bioartificial” organ such as the windpipe would be a first-of-its-kind procedure for the field of regenerative medicine
"Human Muscle, Regrown on Animal Scaffolding."
An experimental stem cell treatment has tricked this Marine sergeant's body into regenerating itself.
"One Day, Growing Spare Parts Inside the Body"
In this installment a surgeon is working on a different method of organ regeneration, so far only in animals — using another part of the body to nourish the organ.
In this last installment, highlights the work is at the forefront of efforts in laboratories around the world to build replacement organs and tissues. Although the long-sought goal of creating complex organs like hearts and livers to ease transplant shortages remains a long way off, researchers are having success making simpler structures like bladders and windpipes, thanks to advances in understanding stem cells — basic cells that can be transformed into other types within the body — and to the development of innovative techniques.
The article follows, Dr. Grikscheit's work, a surgeon who has concentrated on growing rat, mouse and pig intestinal tissue in laboratory animals. But she has recently had success in growing human intestinal tissue, using donor stem cells, and is beginning to study how to develop the technique for human patients. There are many hurdles, and human testing is still years away, but she has a surgeon’s confidence that the technique will work.
“We have a huge problem that if we solve it, it will change the future for a lot of children,” she said.
Dr. Grikscheit has had success in the lab with a different method, using another part of the body to nourish the replacement as it grows.
Dr. Grikscheit is renowned for her skill in treating infants, like the child in this article whose only way to survive may be as what she calls a “short gut kid” — left with too little intestine to absorb food normally and forced to get nutrition through a needle into the bloodstream.
But devoted as she is to saving children in the operating room, Dr. Grikscheit is equally determined to find a better solution than the intravenous feeding, possibly for life, that such patients face. Much of her time is spent in her laboratory across the street, at the hospital’s Saban Research Institute, where she is working with her research team to find a way to make replacement intestines for infants, using the body itself to nourish and push the engineered tissue to grow.
Stem cells play a major role in the regenerative process and being prepared for any eventuality by storing cord blood at birth or storing stem cells from baby teeth or wisdom teeth is gaining in popularity, not only for the xtreme cases like those in these articles but also to treat mundane ailments like arthritis, diabetes, heart attacks, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's to name a few that are focusing on stem cells for a cure.
Learn more about how easy it is to store your family's stem cells: