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"When we talk about adult stem cells, we mean that these stem cells can be isolated from the patient's own tissue such as fat tissue. After cultivation, they can be transplanted back to the patient either as such or combined with biomaterials," Suuronen clarifies. lishment in 2003, Regea has completed ­ in collaboration with Finnish hospitals ­ 20 treatments of bone trauma and bone deficiency. The treatments were focused on the head and neck area by utilising the patients' own adipose (body fat) stem cells. Regea has also successfully treated patients with severe frontal sinus infection with stem cell applications and implants constructed from biomaterials. In 2007, Regea and the Helsinki University Central Hospital jointly performed stem cell therapy procedure in which the right side of the patient's upper jaw, removed earlier because of an extensive tumour, was replaced by a transplant grown from stem cells extracted from the patient's own adipose tissue. Before insertion, the implant was grown for nine months in a custom-made mould placed within the patient's abdominal muscle. Regea is the frontrunner in the clinical application of stem cells. In Europe, Finland and Germany are the only countries so far to have completed stem cell-based bone tissue treatments. thank you, donators Embryonic stem cells, in their part, are generated from 5-6 day old embryos. "We receive the embryos as donations from couples that have undergone in-vitro fertilisation treatments, and have given their written consent. We only use embryos that are unsuitable for fertility treatment and would have been destroyed otherwise," she stresses. The engineering of cells and biomaterials is by no means without its challenges. First of all, not all stem cells have the same regenerative power. Adult stem cells are easier to handle in terms of their fewer rejection reactions in patients, but are less multipotent than embryonic stem cells. On the other hand, embryonic stem cells have great multipotency characteristics, but are prone to proliferation, which, if not carefully controlled, may lead to cancerous tumours. he human body is versatile; and when healthy, self-healing to a great extent. However, if a serious illness such as diabetes, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis or Huntington's strikes, the body can only do so much. Regea Institute for Regenerative Medicine specialises in cell and tissue engineering; and aims at practical applications to complement the surgical and medical treatment. The long-term goal is to improve the patients' quality of life through new stem cell therapies while reducing the cost resulting from diseases that are currently difficult or impossible to treat. The starting point in stem cell engineering is the huge untapped potential inherent in the cells. Unlike the `normal' living cells, they are capable of both renewal and differentiation. "Our research focuses on the differentiation of nerve, heart, retinal, bone and cartilage cells from different stem cells," explains Riitta Suuronen, head of Regea Institute. T Spin-offs blooming The research carried out at Regea has led to the establishment of three new local spin-off companies. Moreover, Regea boasts a comprehensive network of specialists and research institutions. "Thanks to the Finland Disting uishe d Profe ssor Prog ramme (FiDiPro), we have at our disposal the know-how of Professor George Sándor, one of the most prominent researchers in bone regeneration, cell engineering and stem cell applications," praises Suuronen. FiDiPro is a joint funding program by Tekes (The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) and the Academy of Finland. It gives established foreign researchers the opportunity to work in Finland for a fixed period. Professor Sándor participates in a research project aiming at the generation of bone by using adult stem cells and growth factors. Z { The goal is to improve the patients' quality of life. A promising field } Growing new bone tissue Regea is a joint institute with the University of Tampere, Finland. Since its estab"The stem cells are multipotent and can transform into multiple cell types or regenerate as stem cells. Stem cells can be harvested from multiple sources such as embryos, bone marrow and the stem cell populations of the different organs and tissues," explains Suuronen. Suuronen adds that the scientific world views stem cell research as a necessary and promising field. 23

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