Autologous cells are those that are removed and then re-implanted into the same person. They can belong to bone, tendon, ligament, or muscle. Other types of cells such as cartilage, bone marrow, blood, and heart tissue may be removed and put back in the body at a later time as well. Using autologous cells typically minimizes the chances of the immune system rejecting tissue or organs from a donor. They can also be used to treat various diseases and to aid in the healing of orthopedic injuries.
Some medical therapies involve the use of autologous cells in which they are removed and processed in a laboratory. Petri dishes and flasks are often used for cultivation. Although various stimuli and signals in the body regulate the activity of cells, scientists can use different tissue engineering techniques to grow them separately from organs and other tissues. Sometimes the tissue is grown on a synthetic matrix, so it can form the right structure for where it will be implanted. When the cells are sufficiently grown, then they can be returned to the body, generally through surgery.
Autologous tissue can be used to bioengineer skin to help heal wounds or treat burns. Sometimes it is also used to help heal tissues after an operation, especially wounds that take a long time to close up. The use of autologous cells typically eliminates the chances of tissue between a donor and recipient not being compatible; this can avoid rejection. Researchers say, however, that samples can sometimes be altered unexpectedly in the laboratory. People soemtimes apply the treatment to plastic surgery, so it is not limited to life-saving operations and other measures.
The technology can also include the use of autologous stem cells, which many researchers believe can turn into tissue from any organ that requires them for repair and maintenance. These have often been part of therapies for neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis, in which immune system cells are transplanted back into the same person. The effects of the disease during early stages are sometimes reversed through this therapy.
In addition to skin and individual cells, autologous tissue can also include heart valves, corneas, and even parts of the reproductive system. Regional agencies often regulate the use of autologous cells to promote the safety of their recovery, processing, storage, and implantation. Screening and testing procedures are usually regulated as well as the adequate labeling of individual items.