WASHINGTON – U.S. doctors have succeeded in coaxing the regeneration of lost muscle tissue in people who suffered traumatic injuries, including wartime bomb wounds.
Implanting material from a pig’s bladder at the wound site enticed the patient’s own stem cells to become muscle cells and regenerate tissue that had been lost.
All five patients in the study, including two injured U.S. soldiers, had badly damaged leg muscles. The research was backed by $3 million in funding from the U.S. Defense Department, said Dr. Stephen Badylak of the University of Pittsburgh, who led the study.
When a large amount of muscle is lost accidents or other traumas, the body is unable to replace it, and the site forms scar tissue that lacks the functionality of the lost muscle.
Existing treatments include surgery to remove scar tissue or replace it with muscle from somewhere else in the body, but these methods do not yield satisfying results and are hard on patients.
This study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, demonstrated for the first time the regeneration of functional muscle tissue in people with major muscle loss.
The doctors implanted material from a pig’s bladder called “extracellular matrix” — the stuff that surrounds cells, including collagen — to serve as scaffolding for the rebuilding of lost muscle.
This material acted as a “homing device” to recruit stem cells in the body to rebuild healthy muscle tissue, the researchers said.