3D Printed Organs aren’t just for People

Dr. Anthony Atala says the promise behind regenerative medicine is that it harnesses the body’s natural healing powers to actually cure, rather than just treat, a disease. 

There are several areas of study and treatment: injectable cell therapies to promote healing; replacement tissues and organs produced in the lab; and the use of bio-compatible materials that promote tissue regeneration from within the body. 

And it turns out this groundbreaking medicine isn’t limited to humans. 

The Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center that Atala leads is joining with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine to form the Virginia Tech/Wake Forest Center for Veterinary Regenerative Medicine. 

Atala calls the partnership is a win-win for both animals and people. 

“The CVRM provides an opportunity to create new medicine treatments for animals, including household pets, while generating scientific knowledge that can save human lives,” says Atala. 

The agreement will enable researchers at the Wake Forest Institute to evaluate new regenerative medicine techniques in animal diseases that can be models for human disease. 

Projects already underway include kidney regeneration in cats with chronic kidney failure, wound healing treatments in horses, treatments for weakened heart muscles in dogs and using muscle stem cells to treat female dogs with spay induced incontinence.

—Frank Graff 

Frank Graff is a producer/reporter with UNC-TV, focusing on Sci Tech Now North Carolina, a weekly science series that airs Tuesdays on UNC-TV. In addition to producing these special segments, Frank will provide additional information related to his stories through this North Carolina Science Now Reporter's Blog!

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