Regenerative medicine – healing instead of treating symptoms
Age, injuries or illnesses can lead to cells, tissues or organs no longer functioning optimally. Regenerative medicine has the potential to restore these structures and thus their original function. This is done by replacing or strengthening the affected structures with new biological material and stimulating the body’s own repair and regeneration processes. In contrast to symptomatic treatment, the goal of regenerative medicine is to eliminate the cause of a disease in order to regain function and the healthy original state.
Regenerative medicine is considered by many to be an emerging pillar of modern medicine.
Cell therapy for regenerating muscle tissue
Cell therapy is a therapeutic approach in regenerative medicine. Living cells are administered as the active substance, which brings about the necessary regeneration in the body. Even a damaged or weakened muscle can be regenerated using cell therapy. The body’s natural healing process is used: When muscle tissue is injured, muscle stem cells are activated and begin to multiply. These cells combine with existing muscle or form new functional muscle cells and thus will restore the muscle’s original function.
Cell therapy to treat incontinence
Incontinence is most commonly caused by damage or weakening of the sphincter that is responsible for it. To treat this disease, we are developing innovative cell therapies that are designed to regenerate the affected muscles.
This therapy is based on the natural process of muscle formation:
- A small amount of healthy muscle tissue is taken from the affected person. Muscle stem cells are isolated from this tissue.
- These muscle stem cells are activated, and the resulting muscle precursor cells are multiplied in order to achieve the therapeutically effective number of cells.
- Cells produced in this way are injected into the affected sphincter muscle with the aim of starting the regeneration process there. They have the potential to generate new mature muscle cells and/or connect to existing muscle cells. This is intended to restore the functionality of the sphincter muscle.
Cell therapy for treating stress urinary incontinence.
About 30 % of adult women and 10 % of adult men suffer from urinary incontinence. The most common type of bladder weakness is stress urinary incontinence whereby an increase in pressure in the abdomen, such as when coughing, sneezing, climbing stairs or other physical exertion, can lead to unwanted urine loss. The cause for this is often that the responsible sphincter has become weakened or injured. Current treatment methods are sometimes inadequate or can have undesirable side effects.
The cell therapy, ICES13, is currently in clinical development and is based on the principle of regenerating the sphincter muscle through the use of autologous muscle cells. The goal is to treat the cause of the disease: the weakened muscle should be strengthened and its original function restored.
Cell therapy for treating fecal incontinence (urge incontinence).
Fecal incontinence is a condition that affects around 10 % of adults (older than 20 years). Medically, a distinction is made between urge incontinence and passive incontinence. One cause of urge incontinence is damage to or weakening of the external sphincter.
Taking into consideration the fact that currently available forms of therapy are oftentimes not satisfactory, the need for effective and safe treatment is great.
Treatment with ICEF15 aims at a causal and thus regenerative improvement of the external rectal sphincter.
The damaged sphincter’s function will be restored by injecting autologous skeletal muscle cells that have been multiplied in vitro.
For treating fecal incontinence (passive incontinence).
Around half of the patients with fecal incontinence suffer from passive incontinence. In contrast to urge incontinence, those affected by passive incontinence do not feel an urge to defecate, which can lead to involuntary stool loss. With this clinical picture, the internal sphincter function is limited in many cases. Current treatment methods are sometimes inadequate or can have undesirable side effects.
Cell therapy with autologous muscle cells has the potential to be a promising, safe and effective treatment method for passive incontinence. The damaged, smooth sphincter muscle responsible for passive incontinence is treated with ICEF16.