NRP’s Science Friday Addresses Regenerative Medicine
Ira Flatow, host of NPR’s Science Friday, recently spoke with two pioneers of regenerative medicine about the emerging science of regenerative medicine. The guests were Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD, deputy director, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, professor in the Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and director of the Center for Pre-Clinical Tissue Engineering within the McGowan Institute, and Anthony Atala, MD, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The conversation reviewed the latest laboratory studies addressing tissue and organ repair and the challenges of someday growing complex organs such as the heart, liver, or brain. Some of the highlights of the conversation included:
- Update on the ongoing clinical trial which is assessing the effectiveness of extracellular matrix (ECM) to restore lost muscle tissue in the extremities due to trauma.
- The different regenerative medicine research approaches being applied today, such as allowing the body to regenerate its own tissue from implanted biological scaffolds, vs. creating tissues/organs outside of the body and inserting them back into the body.
- The relative levels of complexity of the science involved with regenerating flat structures (skin), tubular structures (blood vessels), hollow organs (bladder), solid organs (heart), and central nervous system tissues.
- The challenges ahead: Cost of technologies, how to scale-up organ production when the technology matures, and regulatory approvals.
“One of the nice things about regenerative medicine,” said Dr. Badylak, “is that we can come at it from multiple directions and solve these [medical] problems using the tools that are available.”
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine