Regenerative medicine: the red planet for clinicians.Intern Emerg Med 2019; 14(6):911-921IE
Regenerative medicine represents the forefront of health sciences and holds promises for the treatment and, possibly, the cure of a number of challenging conditions. It relies on the use of stem cells, tissue engineering, and gene therapy alone or in different combinations. The goal is to deliver cells, tissues, or organs to repair, regenerate, or replace the damaged ones. Among stem-cell populations, both haematopoietic and mesenchymal stem cells have been employed in the treatment of refractory chronic inflammatory diseases with promising results. However, only mesenchymal stem cells seem advantageous as both systemic and local injections may be performed without the need for immune ablation. Recently, also induced pluripotent stem cells have been exploited for therapeutic purposes given their tremendous potential to be an unlimited source of any tissue-specific cells. Moreover, through the development of technologies that make organ fabrication possible using cells and supporting scaffolding materials, regenerative medicine promises to enable organ-on-demand, whereby patients will receive organs in a timely fashion without the risk of rejection. Finally, gene therapy is emerging as a successful strategy not only in monogenic diseases, but also in multifactorial conditions. Several of these approaches have recently received approval for commercialization, thus opening a new therapeutic era. This is why both General Practitioners and Internists should be aware of these great advancements.