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What Is Meant by Regenerative Medicine and Surgery

The origin of the international term “Regenerative Surgery” may be dated back to 2 November 2004, when the American federal government approved the resolution number 71 – a two billion dollars fund, to be delivered in ten years, in favour of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine. This is virtually the amount of money that was accorded to the Human Genome Project.

Ever since, for about three years, the meaning of the term Regenerative Medicine was largely debated.

From the very beginning, it was clear that the underling meaning of the term referred to the next step of medicine in the development of organ transplantation. It was actually the need of organ transplantation and artificial organs replacement therapy to steer and direct researches beyond traditional approaches (Daar, 2005).

As a matter of fact, the aim of Regenerative Medicine and Surgery was not to replace those part of a human body that no longer work, but to provide the elements required for repairing them in vivo, make up replacements and devices able to merge with the human body, and stimulate and support the human body intrinsic capacity to regenerate and heal itself (Greenwood, 2006).

According to Haseltine (2003), the keystone was that every human being basically develops from one single cell, which carries within itself all the potential necessary to become a fully-developed adult.

Today, everyone agrees on considering Regenerative Medicine and Surgery to be an interdisciplinary field of researches and clinic applications mainly focused on trying to repair, replace and/or regenerate cells, tissues and/or organs in order to restore functions that were lost for a number of reasons - congenital defects, disease, damage and age among others.

This new discipline employs a combination of various and often convergent technological approaches, either already existing or recently refined. This places Regenerative Medicine and Surgery ahead of traditional organ transplantation and artificial organs therapies.

Such novel therapeutic approaches are frequently employed only to stimulate and support the human organism's own capacity to self-healing. These approaches can comprise, without restrictions, the use of soluble molecules, gene therapies, the use of stem and/or progenitor cell-based therapies, tissue engineering and cell and/or tissue reprogramming.

In order to stress the reason why we regard this definition as appropriate, we will discuss its key elements with reference to recent clinic activities or new scientific researches. In THIS SECTION, we will deal with:

1. Restoring Damaged Functions
2. Features of Interdisciplinarity
3. Repairing Damaged Tissues or Organs
4. Organs or Tissues Replacement
5. Tissues and Functions Regeneration

In the NEWS section, from now until the conference of the 9, 10 and 11 December, we will report some of the new discipline novelties that we consider to be particularly interesting.

Stefano Verardi, M. D.