Thoughts on Regenerative Medicine

…applications of cell-based therapies are expanding all the time, and it remains an exciting time. –Alan Russell

The Pittsburgh Business Times recently interviewed Alan Russell, PhD, Director, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. In its column, “Five Minutes With,” Dr. Russell responded to several questions posed to him about today’s therapies that reestablish tissue and organ function. Dr. Russell’s efforts have helped propel Pittsburgh and the Southwestern Pennsylvania region to preeminence in tissue engineering through his continued support of university-based research and education, and by pairing tissue engineering scientists with technology transfer opportunities to help them build our regional biotechnology enterprise.

Read his thoughts here…

In what stage is tissue engineering?

I like to say that tissue engineering has gone through adolescence and is now enjoying life as an adult. The most difficult times have been dealt with already.

How far away are we from generating limbs?

Various organs are already being put into patients, but that doesn’t mean it’s widely applicable. As for limbs, it’s much further off, maybe never. It’s possible, certainly, but for me, it’s not appropriate to become excited about what’s not being done (and) won’t have been done in five years.

Which medical condition was treated first using tissue engineering?

Tissue engineering was first used about a decade or so ago to treat skin wounds, but tissue engineering can be used to treat all sorts of different things, almost any condition. It’s almost impossible to name all the treatments. You name the disease; we can come up with tissue engineering to repair it.

Are there cosmetic uses?

I think the cosmetic uses will grow into a business application. It’s very like (cosmetic uses) will be a very important element of growth of tissue regeneration, but not the dominant use.

Is a military application its primary use?

Not at all. Certainly, the military has some unique needs. But the medical industry, biotech industry, regenerative medicine are all very active in the use of cells for treatment of disease.

What’s the goal?

Our goal is to take these great ideas, these remarkable scientific discoveries, and make them applicable. It’s hard to know which breakthrough will come next, and I don’t want to speculate. But applications of cell-based therapies are expanding all the time, and it remains an exciting time.

Read more…

Pittsburgh Business Times (12/28/07)