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New life

Settembre 2017
La medicina rigenerativa è un traguardo molto importante: la possibilità di far crescere cellule e tessuti può salvare vite o migliorare l’esistenza di chi è malato. Parliamone, in inglese.

di John O’Reilly © British Council

File audio:

Speaker: Sarah Davison (Standard British accent)

When somebody gets sick or is hurt in an accident, there are several different ways that doctors can try to help them. One of these is to give medicine that fights the sickness or helps the sick person’s body to fight it. However, if some parts of a body are very sick or damaged, then doctors might need to remove them. Another way doctors can help is to grow new tissue to replace what is sick or damaged. This is called regenerative medicine.

help to heal

Regenerative medicine sounds like something from a science fiction movie but it is not a new idea. Inside our bones, we have something called ‘marrow’, which makes our blood and keeps us healthy. Doctors have been giving sick people the bone marrow from other healthy people for the last 30 or 40 years, and this is a kind of regenerative medicine.
Newer developments in regenerative medicine include growing new skin in a laboratory and using it to help people who have been hurt in fires or accidents.

stem cells

Another example of regenerative medicine is a technique developed from studying frogs and mice. When cells are old, like in adults, they can’t change what they do in our bodies. For example, a skin cell can’t change into an eye cell. But when cells are very young, they can become any cell type. These young cells are called ‘stem cells‘, and doctors can use them to grow any type of tissue, such as skin, heart or eye. John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka won the 2012 Nobel prize for their studies in this area.

working together

Professor Fiona Watt, from the Centre for Regenerative Medicine at King’s College London, believes that regenerative medicine is really exciting because many different kinds of experts need to work together to achieve their results. New bones may be printed by expert 3D printers, who need to work closely with university scientists and the surgeons who do the operations in hospitals.
While we may not be able to grow new arms or legs for people just yet, the science fiction dream of regenerative medicine may actually be closer than we think. Perhaps in the future, doctors will be able to grow whole new bodies for us.

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