Updated 02:01 PM EDT, Wed, Sep 22, 2021

Scientists Launch Quest to Replace Lost Limbs Via Cell Regeneration

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Bioengineers from Boston have taken a significant step towards the development of replacement "bioartificial" limbs that are viable for transplantation.

A huge leap that takes those who have lost a limb closer to cell regeneration has been revealed by Massachusetts General Hospital's team of bioengineers hailing from Boston, Medical News Today has learned.

Over 1.5 million Americans are in need of a new limb for one reason or another. While they may be able to use prosthetic ones, there would still be several issues that need to be addressed.

Interestingly, a team of experts in cell regeneration wrote about their work on an animal model in the journal Biomaterials, probably putting even the most advanced prosthetic limbs as part of ancient history.


Senior author Dr. Harald Ott, from the General Hospital Department of Surgery and the Center for Regenerative Medicine, explained how their discovery works.

"Limbs contain muscles, bone, cartilage, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments and nerves-each of which has to be rebuilt and requires a specific supporting structure called the matrix," he stated.

According to Press TV, the researchers transplanted a "bioartificial" limb to a lab rat and found from test results that the blood flowed through the limb, giving it about 80 percent of limb strength like that of a newborn rat.

Yahoo News has learned that the research holds the key to addressing the issue of impracticalities and health risks brought about by receiving donated limbs from other people.

In fact, the cell regeneration expert team was able to make use of the patient's—or in this case, the model rat's—own progenitor cells to regenerate the tissues on the limb by maintaining the matrix of the tissues natural relationships with each other.

The experiment entails the use of a detergent. Here, the scientists soaked the donor cells until all that's left is the tissue matrix. Then, the team repopulates the bare donor matrix using the recipient's progenitor cells taken from the specific organ they wish to duplicate.

Dr. Ott's team had tried and tested this method using all kinds of organs, including: livers, kidneys, hearts and lungs of several animal models in the past, but this is the first time they tried the technique on a limb which has more complex tissues.

"We have shown that we can maintain the matrix of all of these tissues in their natural relationships to each other, that we can culture the entire construct over prolonged periods of time, and that we can repopulate the vascular system and musculature," he explained adding that the technique worked.

Several weeks after the test was made, scientists saw arteries and veins that regenerated after they injected the matrix to the main artery of the limb.

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