Regenerative Medicine To Heal Soldiers' Wounds
September 10, 2012

Cutting-Edge Regenerative Medicine Being Used To Help Injured Soldiers

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Men and women who have been wounded while serving in the US armed forces are being aided by cutting edge medicine made possible by taxpayer support and a four-year-old federal program designed to develop new treatments, according to recent wire service reports.

"Scientists are growing ears, bone and skin in the lab, and doctors are planning more face transplants and other extreme plastic surgeries," Marilynn Marchione of the Associated Press (AP) wrote on Sunday. "Around the country, the most advanced medical tools that exist are now being deployed to help America's newest veterans and wounded troops."

According to Marchione, the AP interviewed more than a dozen people and analyzed recent medical research in order to evaluate the strides made in treating those injured in the service of their country. She said that the news organization uncovered "some surprising feats of surgery and bioengineering" which were linked to a 2008 initiative known as the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM).

The program's official website describes AFIRM as a multi-institutional and interdisciplinary network, managed and funded primarily through the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (MRMC) but also supported by the US Navy, the US Air Force, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and several other military and government organizations.

AFIRM's goal is "to develop advanced treatment options for our severely wounded servicemen and women," and in her research, Marchione discovered several examples of that mission being fulfilled.

Among those were the case of Los Angeles doctors who were able to use part of a soldier's forehead to reconstruct his nose after it was damaged by a bomb explosion in Iraq; the case of Pittsburgh doctors who were able to regrow a portion of a soldier's thigh muscle using pig tissue; and the case of Boston researchers who are close to being able to implant laboratory-grown ears, among others.

In their 2011 Annual Report, AFIRM officials said that researchers sponsored by the organization had made "substantial contributions to the scientific literature -- during the third year of the program, they published 152 articles in peer-reviewed journals and produced 250 presentations and non-peer-reviewed publications. AFIRM scientists have also been making novel patentable discoveries in the field of regenerative medicine -- during the third year of the program, they filed 20 invention disclosures and 14 government patent applications."