One of the greatest things that one can do for one’s country is to serve it through battle, and during long and hard-fought encounters, soldiers tend to lose the occasional limb, muscle, or appendage due to shrapnel from a bomb blast, bullets from gunfire, or maybe hand-to-hand combat. But now, so much of the government’s money has been allotted to the steady research and development of reconstructive plastic surgery for the benefit of war heroes who have just recently gone home bearing war scars that hinder them from having a normal life.
The US government formally created the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, or AFIRM. This branch of government office is partnered with first-class hospitals and research laboratories all over the country—giving them close to $300M in order to spur research regarding regenerative medicine and medical biotechnology for the artificial reconstruction of a lost body part of a soldier. Terry Irgens, the former director of AFIRM, said that before AFIRMS was formally created, research in the field of reconstructive medicine were slow and uneventful; but now, war veterans are coming home with chances for a new life.
Afghanistan war veteran Ron Strang severed a large part of his thigh, the quadriceps femoris muscle, which functions as a primary extensor of the leg and helps balance walking during a bomb blast. Strang said that after most of the flesh wound had healed, he had an extremely difficult time stabilizing his walking and gait since his legs would not want to support his own body weight. Using innovative techniques with the help of old pig’s tissue, proliferative cells were used to cultivate a colony of specialized tissue, which would eventually mature into the lost muscles of Strang. This was performed by scientists from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. After the treatment, Strang said that he was now able to play a little bit of sports with his friends and was already capable of walking without assistance or much difficulty.
While this may be a relatively rare case, disfigured ears resulting from heavy combat are a more common sight for soldiers coming home from battle. That’s why Cathryn Sundback, the leader of the Massachusetts General Hospital – Tissue Engineering Division, had devised a new way for synthetically-grown ear tissue to have a much more natural feeling and look. Using a computer-generated image of the patient’s ear, small amounts of cartilage from either the nose or intercostals were used to serve as “seeds” for the growth of the new ear. Collagen, which is the macromolecule that serves as the cellular scaffolding for the skin, is then regenerated by the laboratory-induced proliferation of cells obtained from the nose/intercostals.
Dr. Sundback said that all these research and innovations were 20-years in the making, and it is amazing where all this science has lead to—the development of lab-cultivated human ears that are ready to be implanted anytime an injured soldier needs them. The goal of this is to eventually extend this method to other parts of the body—maybe even replacing damaged organs or what not. This would not have been possible if not for the generous funding given by AFIRM.
No related posts.