The McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine at The University of Pittsburgh and the Brook Army Medical Center are trying to make at least one of the tales of science fiction a reality for modern soldiers who have lost a part of their body in service to their country.
The experimental procedure involves a powder, make from the adult stem cells found in pigs bladders, to try and regenerate lost limbs. The powder is called an extra cellular matrix, a tool that is used by surgeons to aid in healing. The hope is that the powder can be used to attract other types of cells from the effected area of the body and regenerate a lost limb or digit in another area of the body.
This idea is based on the discovery that stem cells will grow to be the type of tissue that they are placed next to. Stem cell research first began in 1998 at the University of Wisconsin, making this the 10th year of stem cell research.
In the first test case, the trial was successful. A man named Lee Spievack, who has lost part of his finger in a model plane propeller was able to grow back not only the skin, but also the blood vessels and nail in just four weeks. You can view a video about the amazing limb re-growth story here.
Our Guest Blogger, Kate Gatto, is a technology fiend with a Masters in Information Systems and previous hospital experience working in a small community hospital and a regional trauma center.