Scientists act a lot like … nature


The human body often needs to regenerate itself after suffering injuries, from small ones like skin wounds to ones that need a lot of effort for the it to fix the harm such as liver transplants or even lung regeneration for smokers. And in many cases it, the results are tremendously successful. But when the natural reconstructive process is overwhelmed by the nature of the damage, be it an illness, accidents or deterioration caused by aging or when our organisms just don’t possess the right regenerative algorythm to replace lost tissue,  the human body fails. And it can get very nasty.

One way of dealing with dead tissue is its actual replacement by transplanting the material (organs or cells) from a healthy body to the damaged one. The servere shortage of donor tissues and organs, the painful procedures and the difficulty in matching the two organisms has given doctors, chemists, cell biologists, surgeons, material scientists and engineers some challenges. The results of their intensive research in regenerative medicine appeared only two decades ago but has registered great progress ever since.

Molly Stevens: A new way to grow bone

Regenerative medicine uses the advancements in stem cells technology to advance clinical care and restore organs and dead tissue. Why stem cells? Because they can develop into different types of cells such as skin cells, brain cells, lung cells and so on. To give you some examples: nowadays, if ones heart valves no longer work properly because of heart disseases, they can be artificially grown from that body’s own cells and replace the damaged ones.

Another incredible example is the grow of bones and cartilage that Molly Stevens presented at TED Global 2013. Her talk speaks about harnessing the bone’s innate ability to produce vast quantities of bone tissue painlessly. In other words your body becomes an incubator for growning new tissue that, once fully developed, can replace parts of bones or cartilages that have suffered damage. Sounds a bit like science fiction? Well, it’s just what scientists do nowadays. So how does this work? Where does the “new” bone or cartilage grow and much actual bone can your body produce? Have a look at her talk and trust us, you’ll be amazed.

Image credits: Header: Royalty free

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