Regenerative medicine

At Mayo Clinic, an integrated team, including stem cell biologists, bioengineers, doctors and scientists, work together and study regenerative medicine. The goal of the team is to treat diseases using novel therapies, such as stem cell therapy and bioengineering. Doctors in transplant medicine and transplant surgery have pioneered the study of regenerative medicine during the past five decades, and doctors continue to study new innovations in transplant medicine and surgery.

In stem cell therapy, or regenerative medicine, researchers study how stem cells may be used to replace, repair, reprogram or renew your diseased cells. Stem cells are able to grow and develop into many different types of cells in your body. Stem cell therapy may use adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed in the laboratory (induced pluripotent stem cells), your own adult stem cells that have been reprogrammed or cells developed from an embryo (embryonic stem cells).

Researchers also study and test how reprogrammed stem cells may be turned into specialized cells that can repair or regenerate cells in your heart, blood, nerves and other parts of your body. These stem cells have the potential to treat many conditions. Stem cells also may be studied to understand how other conditions occur, to develop and test new medications, and for other research.

Researchers across Mayo Clinic, with coordination through the Center for Regenerative Medicine, are discovering, translating and applying stem cell therapy as a potential treatment for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, degenerative joint conditions, brain and nervous system (neurological) conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, and many other conditions. For example, researchers are studying the possibility of using stem cell therapy to repair or regenerate injured heart tissue to treat many types of cardiovascular diseases, from adult acquired disorders to congenital diseases. Read about regenerative medicine research for hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

Cardiovascular diseases, neurological conditions and diabetes have been extensively studied in stem cell therapy research. They've been studied because the stem cells affected in these conditions have been the same cell types that have been generated in the laboratory from various types of stem cells. Thus, translating stem cell therapy to a potential treatment for people with these conditions may be a realistic goal for the future of transplant medicine and surgery.

Researchers conduct ongoing studies in stem cell therapy. However, research and development of stem cell therapy is unpredictable and depends on many factors, including regulatory guidelines, funding sources and recent successes in stem cell therapy. Mayo Clinic researchers aim to expand research and development of stem cell therapy in the future, while keeping the safety of patients as their primary concern.

Mayo Clinic offers stem cell transplant (bone marrow transplant) for people who've had leukemia, lymphoma or other conditions that have been treated with chemotherapy.

Consult service

Mayo Clinic currently offers a specialty consult service for regenerative medicine within the Transplant Center, the first consult service established in the United States to provide guidance for patients and families regarding stem cell-based protocols. This consult service provides medical evaluations for people with many conditions who have questions about the potential use of stem cell therapy. The staff provides guidance to determine whether stem cell clinical trials are appropriate for these individuals. Regenerative medicine staff may be consulted if a doctor or patient has asked about the potential use of stem cell therapies for many conditions, including degenerative or congenital diseases of the heart, liver, pancreas or lungs.

People sometimes have misconceptions about the use and applications of stem cell therapies. This consult service provides people with educational guidance and appropriate referrals to research studies and clinical trials in stem cell therapies for the heart, liver, pancreas and other organs. Also, the consult service supports ongoing regenerative medicine research activities within Mayo Clinic, from basic science to clinical protocols.

Read more about stem cells.