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Regenerative medicine

Regenerative medicine or replacement medicine deals with the regeneration of cells, tissues and even organs, in order to heal and prevent disease. Regenerative therapies have been used (in clinical trials or the laboratory) to treat broken bones, cartilage defects, severe bedsores, burns, blindness, deafness, heart disease, nerve damage, Parkinson, metastasized cancer, liver, kidney, lung and a plethora of ofter diseases.

Regenerative medicine has the potential to dramatically increase life expectancy, as it holds the promise of repairing the damage to our bodies, caused by aging.

Application of biomaterials

The biomaterials that have been predominantly used in regenerative medicine so far are the same materials that have been used for manufacturing medical implants. More often than not these materials are less than optimal for the stimulation of cellular repair processes, because they weren’t designed to interact with cells and biomolecules. For that reason, current research focusses on the development of new biomaterials, which are able to interact with the cells needed for repair, and influence cell differentiation and growth properly. A preferred strategy is to combine a bioactive content or coating  with an already FDA or CE approved carrier material. One of the important functional demands of these new materials is that they can eventually be broken down and be resorbed by the body, without releasing any harmful substances. Another important point is that the material should not be encapsulated by the body, something that frequently happens to foreign objects, and that they don’t trigger an (uncontrollable) immune response. The porosity of the material is another important research aspect, as this affects the ingrowth of blood vessels and other. Many of the properties to which the material must conform are still unknown, as there are virtually no applications in current practice. The Prosperos project can rightly be called revolutionary, and succeeding to develop personalized, biodegradable implants is a major step towards the future.