McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
affiliated faculty member Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, PhD (pictured), the J.C. Warner Professor of Natural Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University's Mellon College of Science, is the co-principal investigator of a 3-year, $2.9 million U.S. Department of Defense research grant to develop a therapy that would aid amputees, specifically wounded soldiers. The therapy aims to prevent bone nodules from forming in the muscle at the site of amputation, a painful condition that makes it difficult for amputees to wear limb prostheses.
Amputations among wounded soldiers increased more than 60 percent, from 47 in 2009 to 77 through Sept. 23 of this year, according to U.S. Army reports. The chief causes of amputations are injuries from improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, that are planted in the ground or along roads.
When a limb is amputated, whether by surgical means or as the result of a violent injury, bone can begin to form in the body's soft tissue through a process called heterotopic ossification. Through the new grant, Dr. Matyjaszewski and the team of researchers will develop new tools that will help prevent the growth of these painful bone formations in the muscles of amputees. The bone formations can make it difficult for amputees to wear limb prostheses. In the research program, novel nano-structured polymers will be developed that will place selective biological cues at the stump site to block the bone formation cascade in the soldier's traumatized muscle.
Dr. Matyjaszewski, renowned for developing a method that allows for nanoscale control over the polymers formation, said the ability to control and block mineralization and bone formation opens up many compelling opportunities for increased research. Heterotopic ossification can occur in a number of situations other than amputation, most commonly after joint replacement surgery.
Carnegie Mellon University Press Release (11/04/10)
Earth Times (11/04/10)
Bio: Dr. Krzysztof Matyjaszewski