Surgery has come a long way from its earliest days of crude techniques and limited knowledge. What was once a last resort is now often the preferred method of treatment for many injuries and illnesses. Advanced technologies have allowed surgeons to perform minimally invasive procedures with improved precision. However, there remains room for further progress, particularly through the application of biological approaches known as biosurgery.
What is Biosurgery?
Biosurgery refers to the use of living cells, tissues and biological products in surgical practices. The core idea behind biosurgery is to leverage the innate healing powers of the body to augment and enhance surgical outcomes. Biosurgical methods aim to accelerate wound healing, reduce scarring, decrease the risk of infection and promote overall regeneration of injured tissues. Some key aspects of biosurgery include:
– Tissue engineering: Creating tissues and organs in the lab by seeding cells onto biological scaffolds that can be implanted to replace damaged body parts.
– Biomaterials: Using substances derived from nature, like collagen and fibrins, as implants, dressings or sealants during surgery.
– Growth factors: Harnessing cell signaling proteins to stimulate specific cell activities, such as angiogenesis or tissue regrowth.
– Stem cells: Employing undifferentiated cells that can develop into specialized cell types for reconstructive purposes or reducing inflammation.
– Biological dressings: Covering wounds with materials impregnated with regenerative components to optimize the healing microenvironment.
Some Common Biosurgical Applications
Wound Healing and Skin Repair
Simply covering wounds with biological dressings can significantly accelerate the closure of chronic ulcers and burns. Growth factors in these dressings recruit cells to the injury site and promote re-epithelialization. Collagen matrices seeded with stem cells are also being studied as skin substitutes for extensive wounds.
Bone and Cartilage Regeneration
Matrices infused with bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) or mesenchymal stem cells can help fill bony defects caused by trauma, surgery or disease. These scaffolds potentially restore lost anatomy and support tissue ingrowth without a need for autologous bone grafts. Similar approaches are being investigated for damaged joints.
Soft Tissue Reconstruction
Biological meshes made of collagen or small intestinal submucosa (SIS) provide an alternative to synthetic meshes for hernia repair and other procedures requiring visceral reinforcement. Stem cell-based tissue engineered grafts may one day replace damaged ligaments, tendons and muscles.
Conduits containing support cells and neurotrophic factors show promise for bridging peripheral nerve injuries and expediting recovery of function. Stem cell therapies also show early signs of helping regenerate sections of the spinal cord in animal models of paralysis.
The Future of Biosurgery
As our understanding of cell biology and material science advances, so does the potential for more effective Biosurgery therapies. Some exciting areas of ongoing research include:
– 3D bioprinting tissue structures: Printing layers of cells onto scaffolds using multi-head dispensers, lasers or inkjet technology may enable fabrication of entire organs in the lab.
– Immunomodulation: Utilizing mechanisms that downregulate the immune system, like regulatory T cells, could improve acceptance of allogeneic or lab-grown tissues by the body.
– In situ tissue regeneration: Developing techniques to stimulate the body’s endogenous repair capabilities through biomaterials, gene therapies or cell therapies without need for exogenous implants.
– Personalized medicine approaches: Harnessing a patient’s own cells or genes through techniques like cell reprogramming holds promise for custom-made solutions without risk of rejection.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it