The Future of Medicine: Orthobiologics and Your Health

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Image Credit: Medline 

The future of medicine is evolving into various critical branches that will eventually help you with the maintenance of your health. The body, as a self healing mechanism, can’t always heal itself fast enough. With a little help from science and technology, innovations such as medical robotics and the emerging orthobiologics, are helping to accelerate healing processes and restore aspects of our beings that previously were treated to a biological limit. 

As medicine evolves, the field of orthobiologics is becoming more important as time progresses. Defined as biological substances are utilized for therapeutic applications, the health benefits gained from the regeneration of both bone structure and soft tissue is noticeable. For minimally invasive therapies, the field of orthopedics is leading in its utilization of orthobiologic therapies. These available treatments include: 

  1.  Bone allografts or transplant of live bone into a wounded site.

  2. Bone substitutes: these often include items such as 3-D printed bone replacements, often infused with healing properties such as stem cells in their scaffold

  3.  Growth factors: These are the critical proteins that facilitate the healing cascade that in induced under the right conditions.

  4.  Chondral scaffolds: These facilitate the restoration of the articular surface after the surface was degenerated via stresses or wear and tear. 

The list is by no means exhaustive, and global research is helping to advance the applications. As musculoskeletal injuries are now progressing towards full healing, patients who are in a position where they have foot and ankle trauma, can now rest assured that there is a possibility for full recovery. Even patients that have experienced significant bone loss, and tissue loss have benefitted from the therapy. 

Statistically among the most prevalent of foot and ankle traumas, statistics have indicated that up to 280,000 ankle sprains are reported annually. Induced by various root causes, the ultimate outcome for patients who are plagued with the aftermath of treatment, includes the development of conditions such as post-traumatic osteoarthritis. Medical stats also indicate that up to 80% of developed arthritis cases in the ankle, are linked to ankle sprains. Coupled with ankle fractures, the global stats for foot and ankle injuries are significant. 

While surgical treatments are beneficial, they can be optimized via the utilization of orthobiologics in the healing process. The wound healing process is outlined below, indicating how orthobiologics can assist with the restoration of the body. 

Wound Healing in the Body

A wound is a weakness introduced into the body either via stresses or strains that cause a tear in that external surface. As humans and other living things evolved, in time they developed an ability to self heal, as part of the self preservation strategy of the organism. Designed to heal from external dangers such as viruses and bacteria, the immune system immediately induces a series of mechanisms of cascading cellular functions, which integrate to restore their host.  

Wounds heal via a series of well orchestrated healing mechanisms. The body regulates these processes and facilitates the coordination of cellular, humoral and molecular mechanisms  in the closure of the wound. Orthobiologics, in the form of molecules such as mesenchymal stem cells, have actually accelerated the healing process. Science has long since identified that there are elements in younger bodies that facilitate the healing of the body, much faster than those in adults or the elderly. When children break a bone for instance, they are able to quickly recover, while adults may take up to twice as long to recover from a similar condition. What could have caused this? 

Within living organisms, science has identified the root cause of these healing agents in a mechanism known as the foetal healing cascade. The inner mechanisms of this process are useful in helping to heal adult bodies today. With a better understanding of human healing mechanisms, medicine is advancing to a point where regeneration of various body parts, and even whole organs will be a possibility. 

Reference Articles for Scientific References: 

  1. Wound Repair and Regeneration: https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/339613

  2. Musculoskeletal regeneration and its implications for the treatment of tendinopathy: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/iep.12031

  3. The role of biologics in foot and ankle trauma: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6105477/

  4. The role of orthobiologics in foot and ankle surgery: https://online.boneandjoint.org.uk/doi/full/10.1302/2058-5241.2.160044

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