By Debbie Gregory.
Military medical scientists are looking at research in humans regrowing limbs to becoming a reality. Researchers are working on how salamanders regrow their limbs and reverse engineer that in wounded soldiers whom have suffered limb loss in the battle field.
Although it may sound like science fiction, the U.S. Army is studying the science of bone, skin and muscle regeneration so an amputation is no longer permanent for future service members injured in combat.
While advance in prosthetics have helped alleviate some of the struggles of limb loss, many military and veteran amputees experience a decreased quality of life compared to injured troops without amputations, this according to recent Department of Defense research.
There are more than 1,650 service members who have lost limbs during the War on Terror.
The military’s leading researchers and academics have been exploring “extremity regeneration,” particularly the use of synthetic grafts, which can kickstart the healing process for soldiers by regenerating tissue.
“We would like it to be as restorative as possible, resist infection … and be durable,” said Army Lt. Col. David Saunders, extremity repair product manager for the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity. “This is going to be implanted in young people who may go on to live another 60 to 70 years.”
Though limb regeneration is the ultimate goal, the Army is also focused on skin regeneration.
Jason Brant, a researcher with the University of Florida, is studying the African spiny mouse, which can regenerate scar-free skin, even after losing mass amounts in an attack.
“Warfighters and civilians alike suffer large surface [cuts] and burns, and these result in medically and cosmetically problematic scars,” said Brant. “The impacts of these scars … are really staggering. The ability to develop effective therapies will have an enormous impact not only on the health care system but on the individuals as well.”
Brant believes discovering how the mouse regenerates skin could be the key to applying the ability to human bodies.