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They say that war is a powerful mover of progress, and in peaceful life, we often use inventions made during lengthy military crises. Otherwise, technologies and methods that work for the benefit of peaceful times are used on the battlefield. These technologies include regenerative medicine, which is actively developing now. Further, you will learn what regenerative medicine is capable of and how this method will help treat military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The new achievements of medicine are noticeable in improving our daily lives and providing emergency assistance on the battlefield. Approximately 75% of soldiers wounded in the Vietnam War returned home alive. Compared to the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, this number has risen to 92%. This progress is explained not only by the improved individual protective equipment but also by the development of military medicine. Wounds that used to be deadly are now non-fatal. The survival rate of soldiers is at the highest level in history, but one problem remains unresolved. The fighters’ lives are saved, but they return with injuries that change their lives.
Regenerative medicine is designed to restore full life to war veterans. Modern regeneration technologies, the use of stem cells, and products based on them make it possible to accelerate the recovery of soft and bone tissues and nerves. Next, we will discuss how the new technology works and why it will replace common medicine.
In the 90s, tissue engineering and stem cell research became popular thanks to skin grafting procedures. Over time, the goal of regenerative technologies has become the replacement and repair of tissues or organs damaged due to disease, injury, age, or other problems. Then they began to think about growing or recreating damaged tissues instead of treating them with drugs and procedures.
Regeneration occurs at three levels:
Although many techniques and medications in regenerative medicine are still under development and research, some are already in use. One of them is stem cell therapy.
In living organisms, stem cells are the most basic form of cells yet to be defined. These cells can be called “empty cells” as they can develop into differentiated cells with more specific functions in different body parts and then multiply.
Stem cells are specially grown by scientists in the laboratory. Depending on the need, they can be instructed to behave like certain cells, such as cells in your heart, blood, or nerves. For example, lab-created heart muscle cells can be used as transplant tissue to repair or replace damaged heart cells if you have heart disease.
These abilities make stem cells a versatile treatment option, especially since stem cell therapy has so many promising applications in medicine. In military medicine, where regenerative medicine can be very useful, this opens up many possibilities.
Military medicine is quite similar to civilian medical care but has one characteristic – the type of injury. Field medical care is mostly about blast injuries, which can be challenging for the patient and the doctors. Explosive injuries are often associated with severe tissue damage that is very difficult to treat.
The nature of the injuries that soldiers receive on the battlefield has increased interest in using stem cells and regenerative therapies as field medicine. Stem cell treatment or rehabilitation has long been considered a breakthrough in civilian medicine, so for many patients who traditional therapies have not helped, this is a new hope.
A stem cell is a type of cell that can renew itself and yet be able to transform into any kind of cell in the body. Due to their plasticity, such cells are a promising source of tissue repair.
Below are five promising applications of stem cells in military regenerative medicine:
Specially prepared stem cell injections can give the body an incentive to repair damaged tissue, as well as help relieve pain.
Also, stem cell injections renew and restore damaged tissue, helping reduce inflammation. The fundamental difference in this approach is that regenerative therapy aims at the affected areas, not just alleviating symptoms.
Military doctors are often faced with injuries from explosions that affect large areas of muscle tissue and internal organs. Therefore, the effective restoration of damaged tissues is the main goal of using stem cells in military medicine.
Modern combat injuries are frequent damage to the musculoskeletal system (fat, muscles, connective tissue, bones). Although the soldier has excellent means of personal protection and can count on the quality help of professional doctors, the percentage of orthopedic problems remains high.
Such injuries often limit the victim’s mobility and cause severe pain and, as a result, total disability.
Regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy are designed to help restore healthy tissue by making damaged areas open to vessels and nerve connections.
Mandatory eye protection with ballistic goggles helped to reduce the number of eye injuries in soldiers. However, high explosive fragmentary munitions still carry the risk of severe injuries and vision loss.
For some time now, scientists have been successfully growing retinal cells from embryonic material, demonstrating progress in creating stem cells that can restore vision.
Hearing loss is another common injury, along with vision loss. The impulse pressure on the hearing organs due to explosions and shooting often causes concussion and incurable hearing loss.
Fortunately, stem cells also show similar characteristics to inner ear hair cells. The grown cells will help restore damaged hearing organs.
Almost every injury on the battlefield is accompanied by damage to the skin. Skin damage can be chemical or penetrating, a simple scratch, or an extensive burn. In any case, this leads to the formation of scar tissue. The skin plays an important role in properly healing wounds in large areas with a risk of dehydration and infection.
The advantage of the skin is that it already has cells constantly regenerating to create a new epidermis. Stem cell therapy only makes this process more efficient.
This property of skin stem cells makes it possible to deploy many clinical studies that will allow the development of methods for regenerating deeper skin structures.
Everything related to stem cells is very popular in medicine, but everyone focuses on their restorative properties. Stem therapy has much more potential.
Stem cells have protective and directive potential and can also produce cytokines (one of the components of the immune system) and growth factors. Such properties allow the cells not only to replace damaged tissues but also to “direct” and stimulate the development of new blood vessels and the growth of living cells instead of scar tissue.
These amazing regenerative properties of cells are not yet fully understood, but this possibility opens up a huge field of application in medicine.
Traumatic brain injury is one of the most common wartime injuries. Brain damage can have psychological consequences and lead to problems such as depression, substance abuse, personality disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The role of neural stem cells and their recovery is not fully understood. However, the ability of these cells to form new neurons may help treat cognitive disorders and other mental health problems.
After all, it is important that soldiers can return to society and enjoy life – both psychologically and physically.
The need for a blood transfusion during combat operations is quite common, but there are often difficulties with the volume and the appropriate blood type. Moreover, it is important to consider the issues of transportation, storage, and cost.
Currently, research and the search for new methods and technologies for the mass production of erythrocytes in laboratory conditions are being conducted. Stem cells have the potential to solve this problem. We can get the necessary volumes of artificial blood, which does not require strict transportation and storage conditions.
Depending on the nature of the injured, soldiers have several options:
Whatever the advanced implant or prosthesis, it cannot replace the original. However, regenerative medicine could change that.
Regenerative medicine technologies allow for growing nerve fibers, skin vessels, and other tissues. Reproduction of such complex organs as the heart or kidneys remains an unsolved problem. Reproduction of such a complex structure as the brain also remains an extremely difficult task, in which only the first steps have been taken. However, new research and discoveries allow us to assume that the human body’s potential and modern medicine will allow the complete regeneration of a lost limb or organ.
Regenerative methods and the use of stem cells are a kind of new step in the development of medicine, and the principles of these methods allow us to call them completely new medicine. In many developed countries, new treatments are being researched, and already working stem cell-based drugs are being used. Ukraine is one such country.
GOOD CELLS is an innovative Ukrainian medical company with a modern biotechnological laboratory, a clinic, and a cryobank. The company’s specialists successfully implement innovative treatment programs based on stem cells and drugs, carry out research, and publish the results of their work in leading international publications.
From 2014 to 2017, GOOD CELLS founded and supported the Biotech Rehabilitation of the Wounded project, which was designed to provide medical assistance to ATO fighters. Wounded fighters received effective aid in cases where traditional medicine was powerless. During the period of the project, 86 soldiers were saved from amputation.
“BIOTECH 2.0” is a continuation of the values and ideals of the “Biotech-rehabilitation of the wounded” project. As part of the new GOOD CELLS project, we are ready to provide cellular and acellular products to Ukrainian medical institutions for the treatment and rehabilitation of the military.
This is an invaluable help that will not only save the lives of Ukrainian soldiers but also allow them to return to their families physically healthy.