A mortar attack in Afghanistan destroyed most of the leg muscles of a US Marine, but now he can walk again after a regenerative treatment using growth factors helped his body regrow the lost tissue.
With funding from the Defense Department, researchers at McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh are developing an implantable ‘extracellular matrix’ that can regrow missing tissue and initiate healing.
The matrix is a biological scaffold enriched with proteins and experimental growth-promoting substances that recruit stem cells and other progenitor cells to the site of the injury – stimulating tissue regeneration and rebuilding lost muscle.
- First, Hernandez had to build up his remaining leg muscle by exercising rigorously.
- Then the surgeons inserted the matrix – containing growth hormones derived from pig bladders – into an incision in his thigh.
- A few weeks later, his leg began growing in both bulk and strength.
If this works on a wider scale, it would be a huge breakthrough… because skeletal muscle, the kind attached to bones, can’t normally regenerate after injuries.
But before that happens, the experimental treatment will have to go through a lot rigorous trials.
Some older regeneration news:
- Last year, Columbia researchers were able to grow new joints using a biological scaffold implanted in rabbits. In that case, growth-factor proteins coaxed the rabbits’ own stem cells toward the scaffold, where they regrew bone and cartilage.
- McGowan Institute’s Stephen Badylak had regrown a lost fingertip in 2005, although this was followed by some harsh criticism. The work is being further investigated.
Via Popular Science.
Image from musclebuildingprogramreviewed.com
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