Regenerative Medicine

stroke-stem_cell_all Medicine could be categorized by what it aims to accomplish. Regenerative Medicine, currently in its infancy, would represent an entire new branch.

Quantitative Medicine aims to prevent disease—chronic disease. It is preventive medicine. If Quantitative Medicine is practiced life-long, it is almost 100% effective. Even if undertaken later, after some disease has already developed, it will arrest and frequently reverse the disease.

moneytree-emanuelPreventive medicine is also an area of great interest to Big Pharma, as any pills prescribed for prevention tend to be life-long and hence very profitable. We can’t really think of any area where they are doing more good than harm, and would prefer that they stick to their traditional trade: inventing drugs that kill pathogens.

Most modern medicine is a repair or modification activity. This could be called Reparative Medicine, though it isn’t. This is the mainstay of Western medicine and it shines in this respect. Diseased or cancerous organs can be removed. A variety of repairs can be made to the heart, and on and on. Cancer treatments, such as chemo or radiation, are in this category as well. Ideally, these treatments kill the cancer while sparing the healthy tissue.

We think the ideal way to manage one’s health is:

Practice Quantitative Medicine. This may well be enough, and you may stay healthy until the end.


If something breaks, give Reparative Medicine a shot at fixing it. They are very good at this. If you have cancer, don’t expect miracle cures. Find a good oncologist and do what she says. Need a heart bypass? The cardiac surgeon can do it.

That’s today. But a new day is dawning: Regenerative Medicine. The concept is very simple. Stem cells can grow new body parts. Everyone has stem cells. Harvest them and grow a replacement. What can a stem cell grow? Well, the poster boy (or girl) is that famous fertilized egg. It’s a stem cell, and from it you can get a complete human being. It divides and divides and creates every single part. So the answer is: stem cells can make everything from tonsils to toenails, including brains, hearts, skin, stomachs, spleens, and, of course, any other organs you might have need of.

Some Amazing Results

There are many recent reports, and we are frankly just ga-ga. We do not know how or why these procedures are working, but they do, and that’s enough to get started. For example, stoke victims could benefit from growing new brain, that is, so long as the neurons wired themselves up properly and did the right thing. We reported on a clinical trial here, where stroke victims literally had their strokes partially reversed. Stem cells were injected directly into the brain. Somehow, they figured out how to become neurons and how to connect themselves up to compensate for the brain damage that had arisen from the stroke. A few days ago, a case was reported where they regrew four inches of a man’s esophagus. Again stem cells were used, and again, these cells figured out how to make the five layer cellular structure of a normal esophagus. Here, we reported on “miniature” stomachs being produced with stem cells. Here, you can read about tiny livers, intestines, kidneys, even a tiny heart.

How Do the Stem Cells Know What to Do?

Figure this one out, and your Nobel Prize is waiting. So far, we are barely scratching the surface. It is known, at least, that several environmental factors, gradients of certain chemicals, electric fields, will effect the stem cell action. But this falls way short of knowing how the stem cells injected into the stroke victim brains got themselves organized as neurons, hooked themselves up to other neurons, and started performing functions that were lost in the stroke.

Some research indicates that the stem cells have a strong tendency to turn into one of the 200 plus cells in their repertoire, depending on which proteins are stuck to the outside of the cell. We will suppose this is a big clue to our stroke case. Some neurons were already on the scene, and perhaps  they reasoned: “we need some fresh neurons. Let’s secrete that protein that gets the stem cells to turn into neurons. Who knows, there may be some lurking about.” Then the scientists obligingly supplied some stem cells. But there’s obviously more. Neurons aren’t of much use unless they are wired up and programmed. What did that? Did the freshly minted neurons do it, knowing that their mission was to allow the stroke victim to walk again, or did some nearby cell call the shots. Maybe both. Maybe something else entirely.

The Future

Stay tuned. Even though there may be a whole world of complexity yet to be discovered, there are many very smart people working on it, and the power of the method is enormous. Repairing a brain? So far, only stem cells can do this. Heart bypass? The heart is still sick. The atherosclerosis is still there. A new one, hatched somehow from stem cells, would be 1000% better.

It’s truly a brave new world.

It’s our own stuff. No controversies necessary.

Generally, our own stem cells can be used to generate replacement parts. They don’t need to be taken from any other being. This has a further advantage. Our immune system will suppress and kill transplanted organs, unless they are made from our own stuff. People that receive organ transplanted from others must take very strong immune system suppressors, which have their own serious consequences.

By the Way…

Stem cells age a bit too, although they usually reside in the body’s most protected areas, out of harm’s way. (Inside the bones, for instance.) Quantitative Medicine is also the best way to keep those precious cells healthy. You never know when you are going to need them. And future parent: get that umbilical cord “banked” (preserved in a sub-zero environment). It’s not that expensive, and the umbilical cord is loaded with very fresh and very potent stem cells.

  3 comments for “Regenerative Medicine

  1. Jim
    July 14, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Wonder if my stem cells would work for my knees? I’d love for them to get back to when I was twenty :))

    • July 14, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      Jim! There is some very exciting work going on in this exact field; it will not be long. I am not saying it will be covered by ACA but such approaches will be clinically available within 5-10 years. I say that as someone who has been repeatedly disappointed at the rate of available medical technology uptake so I think that is a likely scenario and not ‘pie in the sky.’ This is going to be very, very cool, Dr. Mike

  2. Jim
    July 18, 2016 at 9:37 am

    It is truly amazing. For these cells, not only be able to repair, but to “recognize” that repair is needed. It does make me wonder though – why didn’t our bodies develop this kind of ability in a more automatic sense?

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