Regenerative medicine is the process of creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function lost due to age, disease, damage or congenital defects. It includes the injection of stem cells or progenitor cells (also known as cell-based therapies), the induction of regeneration by biologically active molecules, and transplantation of in vitro grown organs and tissues. The field of regenerative medicine overlaps with tissue engineering, however its focus is on how the body can use cells, biomolecules and supporting structures to heal it. The complicated nature of regenerative medicine requires that its reach is broad and multidisciplinary in nature with the potential to involve all colleges in the Office of Health Sciences.
Regenerative medicine presents the possibility of a revolutionary way of delivering medicine and the recognition of its potential is not lost in the academic, government or industry sectors. In the immediate term, there are limited products on the market and they are primarily focused on skin, cartilage and bone products. Regenerative medicine has the potential to solve the problem of organ transplant rejection, organ transplant wait, and irreparable damage. In acknowledgement of this promise in recent years there has been a flurry of activity in the field. While NIH funding for regenerative medicine has also been growing a big government investor in this field is the Department of Defense.
Furthermore, recognizing the potential financial returns, private industry may represent the most significant portion of this growing field. At this point, research and development represents the most activity in this sector however the field does possess opportunities for immediate product development.