Regenerative medicine develops ways to regrow, repair and or replace damaged and diseased tissues, cells, or organs. This is mainly achieved through the application of therapeutic cells, transplantation of stem cells, artificial organs production with an aim of restoring normal functionality.
As per analysis made to date, about 55 projects in the filed of regenerative medicine have been funded with Horizon 2020, with a majority having one player and funded within ERC, MSCA and SME funding schemes. In the below picture, the project with highest number of participants relates to communication of stem cells research (Eurostemcell). This consortium unites 33 partner institutions which collectively represents over 400 stem cell research groupings across Europe with a common goal of providing trusted high-quality information on stem cells accessible to citizens and stakeholders across Europe.
Key organizations within the field of regenerative medicine are CEA (France), Aarhus University (Denmark), Linköping University (Sweden), Autonomous University of Madrid (Spain), Technical University of Denmark (Denmark) and Leiden University Medical Center (Netherlands).
These projects foster intersectoral knowledge transfer through collaboration between academic and industrial participants to push regenerative medicine frontiers. Some of projects aim at developing guidelines to reduce the development and clinical testing timeframes to expedite the process of moving novel regenerative technology from the bench to the bedside.
Research focus within the regenerative medicine domain revolves around a variety of key areas. To fully elucidate mechanisms involved in the differentiation, self-renewal and mechanotransduction, many studies are being carried on embryonic stem cells (ESCs), mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) from various organisms as well as human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). To achieve this understanding of cellular and molecular interactions, highly sensitive and real-time characterization is carried out using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and Raman microspectroscopy (RMS) and more so computer models. Some efforts monitor the cell-substrate interactions at nanolevels in order to fabricate precise surface topographies through state-of-the-art nanofabrication methods.
In other projects, the goal is to identify methods and materials for protecting stem cells from unfavorable differentiation for example stretch-induced differentiation. Examples of these materials are conductive polymer (CP) materials for the external stimulation of stem cells. There is also the development of new classes of materials such as artificial biomaterials that mimic functionalities of the natural cell environments or metamaterials with nanoparticles whose functionality can be remotely controlled by external magnetic fields. In terms of drugs, targeting tools and carriers specific to certain tissues and pathology are being developed for example GAG-binding enhanced transduction (GET). Novel bioengineering technologies including organ-on-chip, micro/nano fabrication and biomimetics are being developed while photon laser polymerization is already in the pipeline for controlling the geometry of the synthetic cell niches.