The work of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
Deputy Director Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD (pictured), Professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Surgery, and Director of the Center for Pre-Clinical Tissue Engineering within the Institute, was featured on the first episode of the Popular Science’s new series, “The Future Of.” The show entitled “Superhumans” highlighted on-going engineering and biological research accomplishments throughout the nation:
- Wearable, personalized computer technology (MIT Media Lab’s Sixth Sense)
- Wireless computer screen accessed through a contact lense (University of Washington)
- Strength/endurance enhancement device, the Cool Glove (Stanford University)
- Myostatin protein gene for muscle growth (Johns Hopkins)
- Powered ankle prosthetic, the Smart Foot (MIT)
- Regenerative medicine (University of Pittsburgh)
As a pioneer in the field of regenerative medicine, Dr. Badylak remarked, “I grow body parts.” During his segment of the program, Dr. Badylak explained life in its early stages and how we might recapture the regenerative powers of the human fetus. Through his research efforts, he feels that the signals from cells can be coaxed into recreating lost tissues and organs rather than respond to injury through scarring.
Work in Dr. Badylak’s lab often begins with tissue or organ decellularization—the process of removing all of the cells from a tissue or an organ leaving only the extracellular matrix (ECM), the framework between the cells, intact. Dr. Badylak has reported through his efforts over the years that decellularized tissues and organs have been successfully used as bioscaffolds derived from xenogeneic (derived or obtained from an organism of a different species, as a tissue graft) ECM and have been used in numerous tissue engineering applications. The safety and efficacy of such scaffolds when used for the repair and reconstruction of numerous body tissues including musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, urogenital, and skin structures has been shown in both preclinical animal studies and in human clinical studies.
More than 1.5 million human patients have been implanted with xenogeneic ECM scaffolds. These ECM scaffolds are typically prepared from porcine organs such as small intestine or urinary bladder, which are subjected to decellularization and terminal sterilization without significant loss of the biologic effects of the ECM. The composition of these bioscaffolds includes the structural and functional proteins that are part of native mammalian extracellular matrix. The three-dimensional organization of these molecules distinguishes ECM scaffolds from synthetic scaffold materials and is associated with constructive tissue remodeling instead of scar tissue formation.
Popular Science’s Future Of is hosted by author, comedian, writer, and pundit Baratunde Thurston. Each episode examines how one important characteristic of human life will fundamentally change within our lifetimes. Through in-depth interviews with maverick scientists and hands-on experience with breakthrough research and extraordinary prototypes, Mr. Thurston guides viewers on a deep exploration of how each aspect will fundamentally evolve within our lifetimes.
Photographs: Popular Science.
(Dr. Badylak’s work is the 6th of 6 stories and can be viewed beginning at the 37:00 minute mark)
Popular Science The Future of Superhumans, Season 1, Episode 1 (08/10/09)
Bio: Dr. Stephen Badylak