The pieces necessary to live indefinitely are already in place. Each of us inhabits a powerful vessel, the human body, with vast potential. After all, look at how far life has come. We can continue knowing ourselves even better in the 21st century and beyond, and appreciate the fascinating intricacies of our composition. This Part 4 analyzes a few of the many regenerative biological processes already at work for us, as well as how they can be augmented.
The first example of regeneration is the repair of the skin. Considered the largest organ and first line of immune defense, the dermis undergoes regular maintenance. When damaged, specialized engineer cells called Fibroblasts synthesize a matrix structure made of partly collagen and elastin to repair the site.¹ Remarkably, there are 28 known types of collagen throughout the body, and the shapeshifting fibroblasts determine which kind to make for the given task.
“The fibroblast is a malleable cell, capable of altering its function and physiology or even transforming into a new cell type, based on its location within the body.” — “Extracellular Matrix and Dermal Fibroblast Function in the Healing Wound,” Tracy / Minasian / Caterson
One approach to upgrade dermal healing and enhance tissue regeneration is already in use: Laser Healing and Light Therapy. Non-invasive Red LED Light Therapy, for example, has been proven effective for maintenance and prevention, and shows significant clinical and aesthetic promise being it’s a non-invasive. This “non-thermal photobiomodulation” alters cellular function with light in the spectral range from 600 to 1300 nanometers, which accelerates and stimulates healing and repair, resulting in improved overall skin health and increased intradermal collagen density.²
Low power or cold laser healing can also be used for more serious repair, given the non-damaging stimulatory effect on cells. Overall, Light Therapy is crossing over from cosmetics into general medicine. Reportedly, the Air Force and Pentagon have been funding research on laser and nanotech healing at the molecular level, including a “spray-on skin.”³ Most recently, the Air Force Research Lab with the University of Michigan have been developing rapid healing based on reprogramming cells using gene transcription factors.⁴
Another similar type of specialized cell is the Osteoblast, which synthesizes bone matrix. They are, in teamwork with other bone cells, responsible for formation, resorption, and remodeling of bone.⁵ At the root is the stem cell, produced in adults in the bone marrow. Undifferentiated stem cells can then become many other types of cells, cued by “growth factors, hormones, small chemicals, and extracellular matrix.”⁶
Another type of stem cell, and the most malleable, is the “pluripotent” or embryonic blastocyst. And recently it has been shown that adult stem cells can be genetically reprogrammed to behave like the pluripotents. Stem cell therapy, part of the next chapter of regenerative medicine, is already in use as well as undergoing development. Another recently discovered and surprising source of stem cells is: Human adipose or fat tissue. So
“Adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ADSCs) are mesenchymal cells with the capacity for self-renewal and multipotential differentiation. This multipotentiality allows them to become adipocytes, chondrocytes, myocytes, osteoblasts and neurocytes among other cell.”⁷
Another cellular candidate set to revolutionize regenerative medicine and bioengineering is the mutated cancer cell or “immortal” cell. The mutation allows the ongoing production of telomerase and thus the ongoing regeneration of telomeres, and indefinite cell division. The trick is harnessing this mechanism for a solely positive effect.
The answer to that is examining the complex catalytic proteins and reactions with AI-assisted sequencing, allowing certain processes to be tapped, and also limited. This amounts to using digital and electronic concepts and techniques to indeed help us deep learn ourselves.
1. Costa-Almeida R, Soares R, Granja PL. “Fibroblasts as maestros orchestrating tissue regeneration” | J Tissue Eng Regen Med. 2018 |https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28109062/
2. “A Controlled Trial to Determine the Efficacy of Red and Near-Infrared Light Treatment in Patient Satisfaction, Reduction of Fine Lines, Wrinkles, Skin Roughness, and Intradermal Collagen Density Increase” |Alexander Wunsch and Karsten Matuschka | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3926176/
3. Air Force Treating Wounds With Lasers and Nanotech | Katie Drummond | May 2010 | https://www.wired.com/2010/05/air-force-researchers-heal-wounds-with-lasers-and-nanotech/
4. The Air Force Wants to Supercharge Wound Healing by Reprogramming Cells| By Oriana Pawlyk| Feb 2021 | https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/02/05/air-force-wants-supercharge-wound-healing-reprogramming-cells.html
5. Osteoblast-Osteoclast Interactions | Xiao Chen, Zhongqiu Wang, […], and Chao Xie | March 2018 | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5612831/
6. Physical Cues of Biomaterials Guide Stem Cell Differentiation Fate | Akon Higuchi*†‡§Qing-Dong Ling§∥Yung Chang⊥Shih-Tien Hsu▽Akihiro Umezawa‡ | Feb 2013 | https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/cr300426x
7. Adipose tissue stem cells in regenerative medicine | Vanesa Verónica Miana and Elio A Prieto González | 2018 | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5880231/