2007 Edge Optimistic Question: systemic regenerative medicine

art_veinThe Edge Annual Question — 2007 for science and technology driven people is: What are you optimistic about? Why? In my opinion it seems rational to be optimistic about things which are in my range or at least I can do something for them. So being a stem cell biologist I am really optimistic about the prospects in front of stem cell research and regenerative medicine and specially the future possibility of systemic regenerative medicine which theoretically means the continuous, gradual and consecutive regeneration of every tissue and organ of the human body n times by combined regmed approaches, i.e. tissue engineering (in vitro grown organs and tissues implants or parts of them), systemic (via circulation) and locally targeted stem and progenitor cell transplantation, and endogenous stem cell niche activation with proper growth factor delivery aiming to maintain the physiological turnover and condition of the human body. For that we do not need gene therapy or nanotechnology, just to develop the existing and aforementioned branches, methods and technologies of regmed. Systemic regenerative medicine applied to one patient indefinitely is partial immortalization. It follows from the very concept of regenerative medicine and is just the logical extrapolation of it. Although scientists and technologists in stem cell research and regenerative medicine do not realize this, they implicitly do it and every dollar supporting this science is also (partly) going for extending healthy human lifespan indefinitely. It would be good to know how the systemic repair approach works on animal models, but for that we need to overcome a whole lot of difficulties, the most problematic part will be the proper control of transplanted cell fate and the exclusion of tumorigenic transformation. Of course 2007 won’t give us the answer whether it is feasible, but it’s time to think about it and by that I mean think about experiments and set up computer models.

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