Lizards can regrow an entire tail and salamanders can regrow a leg. Unfortunately, our human bodies mainly just close wounds and make scar tissue. But just imagine the possibilities if we could grow a new limb after an amputation or a new organ, rather than needing a transplant? That is the focus of a recent interview by Julie Rose, BYU Radio, with McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine deputy director Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD, professor in the Department of Surgery and director of the Center for Pre-Clinical Tissue Engineering within the McGowan Institute.
Ms. Rose and Dr. Badylak’s conversation touches on regenerative vs nonregenerative species and the similarities and differences of specific genome pathways which make regeneration possible. They also discuss the several regenerative tissues/organs in humans, namely the liver, the outer layer of skin, the inner intestinal layer, and the bone marrow. Dr. Badylak explains that all our human cells have the same DNA since conception, but after the first trimester of development they lose the signals to regrow tissues because that’s when the regenerative genes are turned off.
The use of mammalian extracellular matrix (ECM) or its derivatives as an inductive template for constructive remodeling of tissue is a common theme of most research activities in Dr. Badylak’s laboratory. His pioneering work has revolved around the structure and composition of naturally occurring ECM, and the signaling provided by this matrix to host cells toward functional tissue reconstruction. Dr. Badylak talks about his lab’s recent volumetric muscle loss study in which 13 military personnel participated. The results of the study showed 35-38% of missing muscle tissue was regrown with the use of ECM. More importantly, these results had a positive impact on the patients’ quality of life.
Dr. Badylak also explained about what his lab is doing in the area of whole organ engineering, specifically with the liver. The long-term goal of this work is to establish the decellularization, recellularization with autologous cells (from the patient, thus avoiding the need for subsequent immunosuppression), and transplantation criteria necessary to produce functional bioengineered organs for clinical translation.
A winner of multiple Edward R. Murrow Awards, Julie Rose is a seasoned broadcast journalist and interviewer. Prior to joining BYU Radio, Ms. Rose worked as a reporter and produced spots and feature news stories for NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered.