Regenerative medicine is a branch of translational medicine. Through tissue engineering, cell biology, molecular biology and other techniques, it promotes the self-repair, regeneration, or constructions of new tissue/organ in vitro or in vivo, and improves or restores the functions of injured tissue/organ. Biomaterials, seed cells and local microenvironment are the three major elements of regenerative medicine.
Stem cells are one of the most important kind of seed cells for regenerative medicine. Stem cell research is also one of the most active research areas. Stem cells have self-renewal and directed differentiation characteristics. In addition to the above characteristics, mesenchymal stem cells can also support bone marrow hematopoiesis and regulate immune response. Stem cells, particularly perinatal stem cells, have broad prospects in clinical treatment. They have been successfully used in the treatment of bone and joint defects, spinal cord injury, Crohn’s disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, graft versus host disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other diseases. Therefore, stem cell research has enormous potential market value. Currently, 14 kinds of stem cell products have been approved by authorities in the world, the majority of which are mesenchymal stem cell products. Biomaterials can not only serve as a scaffold for tissue repair, but also promote stem cell colonization, growth and microenvironment reconstruction, and support the regeneration and repair of defective tissue/organ, for example, spinal cord and myocardium.
As the global aging problem intensifies, the prevalence of degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, is gradually increasing. At the same time, more than ten thousand of patients in the world who suffer from organ failure or severe organ damage due to illness or accident are waiting for organ transplants every day. However, organ transplantation has many problems, including insufficient source of organs, expensive cost, and immune rejection. The rapid development in stem cell and regenerative medicine technology makes it possible to repair or replace aging and damaged tissues with stem cells or in vitro regeneration of tissue/organs. The strategy involves direct infusion of stem cells or stem cell-related factors to the lesion site, in vitro culture of tissues and organs through bioreactors, construction of functional organs by 3D-bioprinting, etc. In addition, stem cell modification using gene reprogramming techniques can be used to treat certain genetic diseases or malignant tumors caused by genetic defects. All these treatments have brought new hope to human beings to overcome major diseases.
In June 19–21, 2018, the 8th International Symposium China-Europe “Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine” was held in Wuhan, China. At this meeting, researchers from China and France in the field of stem cells and regenerative medicine broadly discussed topics of the basic research and clinical application of mesenchymal stem cells, the construction and application of new biomaterials, biomechanics of bone tissue engineering, cellular immunotherapy, etc. The selected papers from the symposium are published in this special issue.
The guest editors would like to thank all participants and authors for their cooperation and efforts.
Department of Bio-medical Engineering, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Wuhan University Wuhan, China President of the organizing committee
CNRS-UMR 7563, Biopôle, Faculty Medicine, VandÂĲuvre-lès-Nancy 54500, France
Department of Pathophysiology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Wuhan University Wuhan, China