MHS Committed to Advancing Regenerative Medicine

Wednesday, February 03, 2010
By Gabrielle Kirk | Health.mil

It may sound like science fiction to many, but the science of regenerating tissues and organs is a reality. Regenerative medicine is happening now and improving the lives of service members and veterans, said Army Col. (Dr.) Robert Vandre of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine AFIRM).   “Regenerative medicine will change the way we practice medicine in the future,” Vandre said during a session at the 2010 Military Health System Conference Jan 27.  While researchers cannot yet regenerate limbs, the biomaterials engineered so far can help injured service members heal and recover by forming new bone, skin, nerves, tendons, muscles, and blood vessels to replace damaged tissues and organs. Vandre explained that although organ transplants have been occurring for more than 50 years, people can die waiting for an organ match and there is always the possibility of organ rejection after a transplant.   “Regenerative medicine is the way to solve that problem,” said Vandre. Along with new techniques that reduce rejection and a patient’s dependence on anti-rejection drugs, scientists can now create or repair organs using a patient’s cells and a biodegradable material called scaffolds that create the organ’s shape.   Another area where regenerative medicine could make a difference is in preventing limb amputation. If muscle or nerves are destroyed, but a limb is still intact, many patients will first choose surgeries and therapies and then often decide to amputate years after the injury because of pain or limitations, said Vandre. “If you can grow the muscle back, then you wouldn’t have to amputate.”  read more

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