Pentagon regrowing soldiers’ muscles from pig cells

November 11, 2011
Muscle regeneration

Muscle regeneration (credit: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine)

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are using pig cells to rebuild parts of people, Wired Danger Room reports.

If progress continues at this pace, the trial will wrap in 24 months and the technique will become “a standard of care for orthopedists and trauma surgeons,” according to Dr. Stephen Badylak, head of the Pentagon-backed initiative.

To rebuild muscle tissue, surgeons start by implanting what’s called an extracellular matrix, a sort of “cellular glue,” whose key components are growth factor proteins from pig bladders. Those proteins trigger the body’s own stem cells to flock to the area and initiate the process of tissue growth and wound repair.