The Pentagon has officially announced the establishment of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM). The institute will study the stem cell technology and the technology to recreate skin, muscle and bone tissue, the official website of the US Department of Defense says. The institute plans to reconstruct whole body parts in the future – fingers, noses, ears etc.
The technology and methods of the institute will be used for US military men injured in battles or for those who returned from the service in Iraq and Afghanistan with amputated arms of legs. There are about 1,000 of such officers nowadays, according to the Pentagon. Many servicemen lost their eyesight or suffered severe burns or spinal injuries.
The US contingent in Iraq currently counts 168,000 people, according to US Vice President Richard Cheney.
“Getting these people up to where they are functioning and reintegrated, employed, (and) able to help their families and be fully participating members of society” is the task at hand in which AFIRM will play a major role,” Dr. S. Ward Casscells, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs said.
The institute has received $250 million for the research.
Specialists say that many scientific institutions all over the world have been actively working on the subject of regenerative medicine during the recent three years. Modern technologies already make it possible to reconstruct both animal and human tissue. However, the procedure can be conducted only with the use of the extracellular matrix. The new US institute plans to grow tissues from the ground up, with the help of genetic material, Cybersecurity.ru reports.
US Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker said that regenerative processes never stop in human organism. Blood, liver, muscles, skin, blood vessels and stomach get always renewed. A scientific approach to these processes may result in the creation of man-made analogues of natural regenerative stimulators.
Scientists have already used a similar technology before to reconstruct the heart of a lab rat, although the heart muscle did not last long.
US defense officials say that the major goal of the new project is to grow donor organs for military men, although the technology may find its use in everyday life too.
Prepared by Dmitry Sudakov