McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
affiliated faculty member Blair Jobe, MD (pictured top), associate professor of surgery, Director of Esophageal Research, and Director of Esophageal Diagnostics and Therapeutic Endoscopy, in the Heart, Lung, and Esophageal Surgery Institute at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC, specializes in the treatment of esophageal cancer, esophageal motility disorders, and the complicated gastroesophageal reflux disease condition called Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus is when the tissue lining of the esophagus—the muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach—is replaced by tissue that is similar to the lining of the intestine. This process is called intestinal metaplasia.
In the laboratory of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine deputy director Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD (pictured center), researchers investigate the use of biologic scaffold as a regenerative medicine approach to esophageal reconstruction. Esophageal cancer is increasing at a rate faster than any other type of cancer in North America and the only treatment is esophagectomy; a procedure that has high morbidity. Biologic scaffold materials, such as extracellular matrix (ECM) derived from various tissues, have shown promise for esophageal reconstruction.
Partnered together and utilizing the tissue engineering technology of Dr. Badylak, Dr. Jobe has used ECM-derived scaffolds to regenerate esophageal tissue with the aim of decreasing the morbidity and mortality of current surgical procedures to treat esophageal cancer and Barrett’s esophagus. Within the last year, Dr. Jobe has treated two cancer patients with Dr. Badylak’s ECM technology.
In December 2009, Morely Safer of the CBS 60 Minutes news program interviewed Dr. Jobe and his esophageal cancer patient, Irwin Schmidt, 76. 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.
In June 2010, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on Michael Wright, 54, who also underwent the procedure whereby Dr. Jobe inserted an instrument through his mouth and removed the cancerous lining of his esophagus, and then used ECM to help regenerate a new, cancer-free lining. Since the procedure, Mr. Wright has had some mild narrowing at the junction between the matrix and his natural esophagus, and so his esophagus has been dilated twice, but he is currently cancer-free. And though Mr. Wright said he has trouble eating dry bread, he is otherwise eating normally.
Dr. Jobe and McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member James Luketich, MD (pictured bottom), director of the Heart, Lung and Esophageal Surgery Institute at UPMC, said they are excited about the possibilities of the procedure and intend to start a clinical trial. But both were quick to point out that the treatment is still in the early stages and is appropriate only for certain patients.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (06/02/10)
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine In the News (12/31/09)
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine In the News (06/26/09)
Regenerative Medicine Today: Drs. Stephen Badylak and Blair Jobe
The Stephen Badylak Laboratory
Bio: Dr. Blair Jobe
Bio: Dr. Stephen Badylak
Bio: Dr. James Luketich