Skip to comments.A "Holy Grail" Of Healing[Regenerative Medicine]
Posted on 02/17/2008 5:20:13 PM PST by BGHater
Regenerative Powder Helped Re-Grow A Man's Fingertip, And Could Change Medicine
(CBS) A new generation of researchers is changing the way we heal, one cell at a time. This is the second in a CBS News series on the innovative field of regenerative medicine.
You might become a believer in the power of magic dust, when you see how a special powder re-grew the tip of Lee Spievack's finger.
He sliced off a half inch of his finger in the propeller of a hobby shop airplane. His finger never even formed a scar.
"Your finger grew back flesh, blood, vessels and nail?" CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports.
"Four weeks," Spievak said.
Is this essentially what re-grew Spievak's finger.
This powder is a medical product called extracellular matrix. Made from pig bladders, it is a mix of protein and connective tissue surgeons often use to repair tendons.
But it's the matrix's unusual power to regenerate tissue that's helping launch a new field: regenerative medicine.
"It tells the body, start that process of tissue re-growth," said Dr. Stephen Badylak of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Regenerative Medicine.
Badylak believes the matrix somehow mobilizes cells, some of them adult stem cells whose job it is to maintain and repair injured tissue.
"It will change the body from thinking that its responding to inflammation and injury to thinking that it needs to re-grow normal tissue," Badylak said.
If this helped Mr Spievak's finger re-grow, could you grow a whole limb?
"In theory," Badylak said.
That theory, that it might be possible to re-grow a limb, is about to be tested by the United States Military. The Army, working in conjuction with the University of Pittsburgh, is about to use that matrix on the amputated fingers of soldiers home from the war.
Dr. Steven Wolf, at the Army Institute of Surgical Research, says the military has invested millions of dollars in Regenerative research, hoping to re-grow limbs, lost muscle, even burned skin.
"And it's hard to ignore this guys missing half his skin, this guy's missing his leg," Wolf said. "Is there any way we can make that grow back? Some of that technology exists and now its time to field it."
Several different technologies for harnessing regeneration are now in clinical trials around the world. One machine, being tested in Germany, sprays a burn patient's own cells onto a burn, signaling the skin to re-grow.
Badylak is about to implant matrix material - shaped like an esophagus - into patients with throat cancer.
"We fully expect that this material will cause the body to re-form normal esophageal tissue," Badylak said.
Some of the most advanced tests involve the heart. This patch of material is being put on - like a band aid - to regenerate heart muscle damaged by a heart attack.
And patient Mary Beth Babo is getting her own adult stem cells injected into her heart, in hopes of growing new arteries. Her surgeon is Dr. Joon Lee.
"It's what we consider the Holy Grail of our field for coronary heart disease," Lee said.
The Holy Grail, because if stem cells can re-grow arteries, there's less need for surgery.
"If people don't have to go through that, this would be the way to go for sure," Babo said.
Lee Spievak jokes he's got a 69-year-old body and a two-year-old fingertip.
But his fingertip has researchers imagining a time when re-grown limbs replace prosthetics, when re-grown tissues replace surgery, when the body does its healing with its own cells from within.
Lee Spievack sliced off a half-inch of this finger but with the help of doctors and a special medical powder, he grew it back.
Of course, the real test would be to try to regenerate a Johnson that’s been....severed.
That’s awesome. Really exciting!
Fire or acid! It’s the only way to put a troll down!
/end D&D obscure references/
The use of this stuff for heart repair—terrific, if it works. Wish it had been around when some of my now-deceased relatives could have benefited from it.
Cancer is uncontrolled (unchecked) cell replication. This is the flip side, so I wonder if there is a lesson here for the oncologist. Here cell growth for regeneration is elicited, what does it tell us about cell replication that is not wanted (cancer). Thanks for posting this report. Perhaps there is even more here to learn.
How are you able to drive with that injury?
It is a distinct handicap, yet the DMV won't let me have handicap plates. Fast food drive throughs are a nightmare, receiving change back. Try giving another driver the finger with your right hand. It's very awkward.
Axe me about my favorite chapter...
it’s Second Peter!
About 2 or 3 years ago, my oral dental surgeon was able to regrow the root of a tooth of mine by inserting something around the remaining tooth. It grew back in about 6 months. Unless I had seen the before and after pictures of my tooth, it would have been hard to believe such a thing could be done.
I was thinking at the time it would great if they could use this procedure to regrow other bones and such. It looks like maybe they are headed that direction.
Do you have the name of the substance? Where did this take place (city/state)?
Thanks—I was trying to remember that guy’s name and couldn’t do it. Now its back in my head with all the other useless trivia.
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