Workforce Needs in Regenerative Medicine

The promise of regenerative medicine is that, someday, we may be able to repair and replace cells, tissues, and organs damaged by disease, injury, or aging. These therapies could also help manage or cure conditions that are currently considered chronic, untreatable, or terminal.

Regenerative medicine involves using engineering principles to stimulate the growth of new cells, tissues, and organs. It is a broad field that includes cell therapy, tissue engineering, and biomechanical prosthetics. It also encompasses more familiar chemical pharmacopeia, such as vaccines and the growing use of recombinant proteins and antibody treatments.

Unlike conventional drugs that target symptoms, Regenerative Medicine Littleton seeks to replace or reboot damaged cells, tissues, and organs by triggering their natural healing mechanisms. Scientists are exploring approaches like skin grafting, cell therapy, and biomaterial scaffolding. They are working to understand the underlying molecular and cellular processes that control regeneration and how to engineer and enhance this process. They are also studying the differences between the natural regeneration of human tissues and the more destructive scarring that is seen in other conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.

Regeneration is a complex biological process, so it will take time to develop and test the latest technologies. However, promising preclinical and clinical data suggest that regenerative medicines can address a wide range of conditions. They could restore lost function, treat chronic diseases, and even normalize congenital defects.

To help us move forward faster, the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act included provisions to expand federal support for regenerative medicine and advanced therapies. It also included funding to study the current and future workforce needs in these areas. GAO interviewed eight stakeholders and found that many employers reported shortages of laboratory and biomanufacturing technicians to support regenerative medicine research and development. These positions require specialized training in areas like cell biology and advanced manufacturing. The stakes are high, because these interdisciplinary fields hold the promise of alleviating or curing many chronic and intractable diseases and conditions.

While the field of regenerative medicine is relatively new, it draws on a long history of medical research. For example, surgical implants such as artificial hips, and hospital procedures like bone marrow transplants, are examples of regenerative medicine. In addition, regenerative medicine is building upon the work done in other areas of medical research such as genomics, biomedical engineering, and materials science.

When we scrape our knee or break a bone, the body quickly heals itself, but that process isn’t always effective for more serious injuries or conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Scientists are working to better understand the molecular and cellular processes that control the regeneration of cells, tissues, and organs. They hope to someday be able to manipulate these processes to stimulate regeneration in tissues that do not regenerate naturally, or to correct conditions that result in scarring. By improving our understanding of how the body functions, we can help it heal itself in ways that are less invasive and more effective than conventional treatment methods.