On May 1, Cambridge University Press released a new book co-edited by George Christ, PhD, and Karl-Erik Andersson, MD, PhD, both of whom are professors of regenerative medicine and physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest School of Medicine. The book, titled Regenerative Pharmacology, is, at face value, an academic textbook on a rather esoteric topic — the interrelationship between pharmacology and regenerative medicine. But, beyond the veil of those specific terms, Christ’s new book is a call to action for researchers across multiple spectrums. And, if we all heed his call, we just might be able to revolutionize medicine.
Christ, who is a core faculty member of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, headed by Dr. Anthony Atala, has been on the cutting edge of regenerative pharmacology for nearly a decade. In fact, a paper he co-authored in 2007 coined the term itself. His work studies the impact of disease on normal tissue physiology, as well as the characteristics of tissue repair and regeneration so that he and his colleagues can understand how development and delivery of medicines might some day be optimized to be highly selective in how they target cells and which cells they target. Moreover, he hopes to change the mindset of the drug development paradigm to encourage investigators to identify drugs that can cure diseases rather than just relieve their symptoms.
“The reason that many drugs today aren’t as effective as they could be is because they have undesirable side effects,” says Christ. “But there are new technologies available that allow you to target drugs. Can we target drugs at desired concentrations to enhance regeneration and cell/tissue repair without side effects? Can we take the best of pharmacology and combine that with materials chemistry and organ biology to find the best way to do this? Is it possible to give someone an oral medication that could heal his or her bladder, heart, brain or liver?”
Regenerative Pharmacology asks and begins to answer these questions and more. Through examples and solid, established, preclinical research, Christ provides a blueprint for pharmacologists, materials chemists, developmental biologists, nanotechnologists and other researchers to come together and collaborate in the development of the first generation of regenerative drugs.
“It makes sense that if you understand how cells are altered by disease and what occurs during the regenerative process, you can recreate that, especially in a day and age where we have biomaterials, nanotechnology and other sophisticated enabling technologies,” says Christ. “While there is currently no single example of regenerative pharmacology healing an organ, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible and that people shouldn’t be thinking about it. The goal of this book is to start the conversation and push these disciplines toward imagining a future where regenerative pharmacology is possible and can become very real.”
Order George Christ’s book, Regenerative Pharmacology, online.