Glossary

From adult stem cells to xenotransplantation, learn about common and specialized regenerative medicine terms.

Adult stem cell
A type of stem cell found in organs of the body that can be used for regenerative interventions. Center for Regenerative Medicine protocols have been developed to generate adult stem cell-derived bone-like, nerve-like and heart-like tissues.
Allogeneic transplantation (allotransplantation)
Transplanting organs, tissues or cells from one person to another. Compare with autologous transplantation.
Amniotic fluid stem cell
A type of cell derived from amniotic fluid, which is the liquid that surrounds a developing fetus in the amniotic sac.
Apoptosis
The normally occurring death of cells that can be hastened through adverse events such as trauma, ischemia and stroke. It is probable that apoptosis plays a role in the pathophysiology of early degeneration.
Autologous transplantation (autotransplantation)
Transplanting tissues or cells from one area of a person's own body to another. This is a treatment option for some blood cancers, such as leukemia. Compare with allogeneic transplantation.
Axogenesis
Growth of nerve axons.
Axon
A nerve fiber that transmits signals away from the neuronal cell body and to the next nerve synapse.
Beta cell
An insulin-producing cell type found in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. Beta cell dysfunction is a characteristic of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Researchers in the Center for Regenerative Medicine are studying beta cell regeneration.
Bioethics
The study of ethical, legal, policy and social issues as they relate to new biological discoveries and biomedical advances.
Bone marrow transplant
A medical procedure in which healthy bone marrow stem cells are injected into the body to replace damaged or diseased bone marrow. It may be performed using cells from the patient's own body (autologous transplant) or cells from a donor (allogeneic transplant).
Cell therapy
Using specific types of stem cells to repair damaged tissues and treat disease. The Center for Regenerative Medicine is developing regenerative cellular therapies for more than a dozen conditions.
Chronic disease
A noncommunicable condition that is long lasting, does not resolve on its own and typically cannot be entirely cured. Examples include heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.
Clinical trial
A type of research study in which researchers learn if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Treatments studied in clinical trials might be new therapeutics, new surgical procedures or devices, or new ways to use existing treatments.
Composite tissue allotransplantation
Transplanting a combination of tissues, such as skin, muscle, nerves, cartilage and more, from one person to another. Examples include hand and face transplants.
Congenital disorder
A disorder present at birth. Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is an example.
Decellularization
The process of removing all the cells from a donor organ, such as a heart or lung, leaving behind just a tissue scaffold. See also recellularization and scaffold.
Degenerative disease
A disease that causes tissues or organs to deteriorate in structure or function over time. Examples include Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease), osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
Differentiation
The process by which an undifferentiated stem cell becomes a specialized cell type, such as a heart cell or brain cell. See also undifferentiated.
Discovery-translation-application
A three-stage continuum in the Center for Regenerative Medicine that represents basic science research (discovery), the movement of those laboratory findings into clinical trials and testing (translation), and their introduction into patient care (application). All programs in the center include efforts across these three areas.
Embryonic stem cell
A type of undifferentiated stem cell found in embryos. Use of this type of stem cell has significantly decreased in recent years due to the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells.
Engineered stem cell
A stem cell that has been modified in the laboratory to give it specific properties.
Gene therapy
Replacing a defective gene with its normal, functional counterpart.
Growth factor
A hormone or biological substance that promotes and controls cell growth and division.
Hepatocyte
A liver cell. Hepatocytes are key to several liver regeneration efforts.
Individualized medicine
The personalization and customization of health care, with all decisions and treatments tailored to each individual patient in every way possible. Also known as personalized medicine.
Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell
A type of undifferentiated stem cell derived from an adult stem cell that behaves like an embryonic stem cell.
In vitro
Occurring in a controlled environment, such as a laboratory.
In vivo
Occurring within a living organism.
Islets of Langerhans
Clusters of cells in the pancreas that are composed of several cell types, including beta cells, which produce insulin. See also beta cell.
Mesenchymal stem cell
A type of stem cell from adult bone marrow or adipose tissue that can differentiate into bone, cartilage, fat and possibly other cells.
Multipotency
The ability of a stem cell to differentiate into more than one — but not every — type of cell in the body. Compare with pluripotency and totipotency.
Myelin
The insulating covering of nerve fibers; the substance of the myelin sheath.
Neurogenesis
The process during which growth of nervous tissue occurs.
Neuroregeneration
Regenerative medicine as applied to injuries and diseases of the brain, spinal cord and nerves. Examples of diseases for which neuroregeneration may hold promise include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) and multiple sclerosis.
Perfusion
The movement of blood or another fluid through an organ.
Peripheral nervous system
A network of nerves that links the brain and spinal cord to other parts of the body and organs.
Pluripotency
The ability of a stem cell to differentiate into nearly every type of cell in the body. Compare with multipotency and totipotency.
Progenitor cell
A type of cell that can differentiate into certain types of specialized cells, but is less versatile than a stem cell.
Proteases
An enzyme that cleaves proteins or peptides into smaller pieces.
Recellularization
The process of repopulating a decellularized donor organ with new cells, oftentimes particular types of stem cells generated from the cells of the patient to be treated. See also decellularization.
Regeneration
The process by which a tissue heals itself after injury or damage. The process may be enhanced by delivering specific types of cells or cell products to diseased tissues or organs, where they will ultimately restore tissue and organ structure and function. Bone marrow transplants are an example. One of three interrelated approaches being studied in the Center for Regenerative Medicine; see also rejuvenation and replacement.
Regenerative medicine
Using native and bioengineered cells, assistive devices, and engineering platforms to develop new treatments with the potential to fully heal the underlying causes of diseases, rather than only manage disease symptoms.
Regenerative Medicine Biotrust
A Center for Regenerative Medicine resource that enables the collection, processing and storage of umbilical cord blood, adult stem cells, bioengineered progenitor cells and other biospecimens from patients for use in a broad range of patient care and research applications.
Rejuvenation
Boosting the body's natural ability to heal itself (self-heal). One of three interrelated approaches being studied in the Center for Regenerative Medicine; see also regeneration and replacement.
Replacement (transplant)
Using healthy cells, tissues or organs from a living or deceased donor to replace damaged ones. Organ transplants, such as heart and liver transplants, are examples. One of three interrelated approaches being studied in the Center for Regenerative Medicine; see also regeneration and rejuvenation.
Scaffold
A structure created through either synthetic fabrication or organ decellularization that can subsequently be used as a foundation for growing fresh tissue.
Schwann cell
A cell of the peripheral nervous system that wraps around a nerve fiber, forming the myelin sheath.
Stem cell
A type of "master cell" that can divide and renew itself as well as differentiate into specialized cell types.
Totipotency
The ability of a stem cell to differentiate into every type of cell in the body. Compare with multipotency and pluripotency.
Umbilical cord blood cell.
A type of cell, specifically a progenitor cell, taken from umbilical cord blood, which is the blood left over in the placenta and umbilical cord after childbirth.
Undifferentiated
A stem cell yet to differentiate into a specialized cell type. See also differentiation.
Xenotransplantation
Transplanting organs, tissues or cells from one species to another.