Noncellular material implanted in patients attracts stem cells to fix injuries
Badly injured patients can regrow lost muscle with help from implanted sheets of tissue from pigs. An experimental treatment worked well for three of five volunteers and showed some benefit in a fourth, researchers report in the April 30 Science Translational Medicine.
“This is five patients, and that’s not huge. But it’s a benchmark,” says George Christ, a physiologist at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., who wasn’t involved in this study. “It’s good to see studies out there trying to address this huge gap in medical knowledge and treatment.”
Although muscle can regenerate after trauma, large-volume losses of the tissue don’t fully recover. To encourage regrowth, the scientists used pig bladder tissue with all of its cells removed, leaving a sterilized matrix sheet of collagen and many other compounds common to mammals.