Research and clinical progress by McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
faculty members were featured on 60 Minutes, a CBS news magazine that aired on Sunday, December 13, 2009. For the segment titled “Growing Body Parts,” journalist Morley Safer traveled to Pittsburgh to speak with McGowan Institute Deputy Director Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD (pictured top), who also serves as the Institute’s Director of the Center for Pre-Clinical Tissue Engineering. They discussed Dr. Badylak’s approach to regenerative research, which focuses on instructing the body to regrow or repair the injured body parts. The key to regenerating body parts, Mr. Safer summarized, is “finding the switch in our bodies that tell our cells to grow when still in the womb.” Dr. Badylak believes that mammalian extracellular matrix (ECM) or its derivatives are essential as an inductive template for constructive remodeling of tissue.
Mr. Safer also spoke to McGowan Institute faculty member Blair Jobe, MD (pictured center), associate professor of surgery in the Heart, Lung and Esophageal Surgery Institute at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC. Last April, Dr. Jobe used ECM to treat esophageal cancer patient Irwin Schmidt, 76, who was also interviewed for the program. Dr. Jobe removed the cancerous lining of Mr. Schmidt’s esophagus and then applied the ECM to regrow new lining. This procedure resulted in a new esophagus without any scarring. Mr. Schmidt is now cancer-free. “I’m eating real good, I feel terrific, and I’m starting to put weight on,” said Mr. Schmidt on 60 Minutes.
“I feel this will change the way we do things,” Dr. Jobe said before he cautioned, “but I think right now it’s too early to claim victory.” More research is needed before victory can be declared, and Dr. Jobe hopes to start a full clinical trial very soon.
Also featured was the regenerative work done in partnership with the Department of Defense. This Army-sponsored research aims to help soldiers with severe battle injuries, such as lost muscle, tissue, and limbs. Recently, hand transplant surgery was performed by McGowan Institute faculty member W.P. Andrew Lee, MD (pictured bottom), chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, on a marine who was hurt in a training accident. Using cell therapy and a bone marrow transplant from the donor, Dr. Lee successfully attached the hand, and the marine had some movement in his fingers less than 10 days following the transplant. He then had intense daily physical therapy for 3 months to restore movement in his new hand. “We think we have the potential of accomplishing composite tissue transplants with fewer medications than have been used previously,” Dr. Lee said shortly after the surgery had been completed. “We think this is very important because these transplants don't save any lives but improve the quality of life.”
Watch the 60 minutes segment here.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Kidney Space (12/13/09)
Bio: Dr. Stephen Badylak
Bio: Dr. Blair Jobe
Bio: Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee