The emerging field of regenerative medicine may one day revolutionize the treatment of heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders, solve the organ donor shortage problem, and completely restore damaged muscles, tendons and other tissues.
The key, researchers are learning, is to give the body a kind of starter kit—made of various proteins, fibers or cells—or to clone extra copies of the semispecialized stem cells that are already found in adult patients and to allow the body to take over from there.
The extra help allows the body to regrow tissues of the type or in the amount that it normally could not do by itself. Already such self-healing treatments have somewhat rejuvenated a few patients’ ailing hearts and helped surgeons repair injured muscles.
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