Wed | Jun 29, 2022

Regenerative medicine: Healing and repairing

Published:Wednesday | May 18, 2022 | 12:06 AMKeisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer
Dr Janice Simmonds-Fisher viewing and counting stem cells.
Dr Janice Simmonds-Fisher viewing and counting stem cells.

When you scrape your knee, break a bone, or cut yourself, the body is able to heal itself; but that is not the case with certain conditions, like diabetes or heart disease. Regenerative medicine, a fairly new field in which experts are looking for therapies and strategies similar to the mechanisms that help your body heal itself, is changing that.

Regenerative medicine first picked up steam in the 1990s, when tissue engineering became popular for stem cell research and procedures like skin grafting. The goal of regenerative medicine is to replace or reboot tissues or organs damaged because of disease, injury, age, or other issues, instead of treating symptoms with medication.

According to Dr Janice Simmonds-Fisher, the pioneer of stem cell work in Jamaica, regenerative medicine is the science of healing and repair. She said the ability to encourage repair reduces the time most patients will remain ill. “This offers many possibilities in medicine, and, as such, regenerative medicine is being researched and studied by most universities and countries in the world,” Dr Simmonds-Fisher said.

While many forms of regenerative medicine research are still under way, some have already been put to use. One of them is stem cell therapy. Stem cells are the body’s raw materials, cells from which all other cells with specialised functions are generated. Under the right conditions in the body or a laboratory, stem cells divide to form more cells called daughter cells.

These daughter cells become either new stem cells or specialised cells (differentiation) with a more specific function, such as blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle cells or bone cells. No other cell in the body has the natural ability to generate new cell types.

“The potential for repair and the ability to repair are two separate things. We all have the potential to repair but we do not all have the ability. The main benefits of regenerative medicine are derived from the ability of cells, particularly stem cells to promote cell repair by reducing inflammation which promotes faster healing, better circulation and less pain in an injured area,” Dr Simmonds-Fisher said.

With 16 years of clinical practice, working in medical tourism, and stem cell repair, Dr Simmonds-Fisher said stem-cell therapy has been proven to regenerate the human body without the need for surgery or additional medication in certain situations.

“Stem cells are useful to patients who are suffering from a number of degenerative and chronic diseases who are in search of healing remedies without surgical interference. Stem cells can come from a variety of tissues in the body. They tend to be harvested from areas that are easily accessible,” Dr Simmonds-Fisher said.

At Bioregeneration Integrated Medical Centre, Dr Simmonds-Fisher and her team of committed medical professionals specialises in adult stem cells, which are mainly taken from bone marrow, adipose tissue/fat and peripheral blood. The process, she said, is very simple.

“For instance, if you have a new injury, stem cells can be harvested from your body to repair the injury. With stem cell therapy, what you are actually putting in is your body’s repair team, and the closer you put it to the injured area, the more successful the repair will be to that area,” she said.

Regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy hold great promise in a number of conditions, including anti-ageing and wellness; aesthetic skin applications, such as skin rejuvenation and hair loss; sexual wellness, including irritable bladder, female sexual dysfunction and erectile dysfunction in males; orthopaedic conditions, including degenerative disc disease, injuries of ligaments and tendons and osteoarthritis; and degenerative conditions, including chronic pain.

“It is becoming more and more popular in Jamaica, especially among dermatologists and people doing aesthetics, but also the orthopaedic community with the joints. Many people who do not want to be taking pills for the next five to 10 years, for whatever reason, or the patients are on medications but they are not getting the level of relief that they want, then there is the opportunity to use these cells,” Dr Simmonds-Fisher said.

A full consultation is recommended to determine the cause and severity of any pain being experienced. The best treatment is then recommended to provide much-needed relief.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com

SOURCE: WebMed, Bioregeneration Integrated Medical Centre