Regenerative Medicine

What & Why

Human heart regeneration sample

Steady advancements in medical, engineering, materials and biological sciences have resulted in technologies and knowledge, driving a medical treatment paradigm shift from removal or replacement to repair and regeneration. Regenerative medicine is the process of replacing or regenerating human cells, tissues or organs to restore or re-establish normal tissue function. Recognizing the significant promise and capabilities that regenerative technologies offer, the U.S. Army has maintained an active research program in regenerative medicine since 2009.

The regenerative medicine research program drivers are characterized by the following:

  • Increasing rates of casualty survivability following severe traumatic injury
  • Medical research funding largely focuses on disease conditions, while Army research is focused on the treatment of trauma
  • A relatively younger, healthy population with expectations of high function for many years to come
  • A need for alternatives to autologous (coming from oneself) tissue harvest
  • Unacceptable loss of form and function from current treatment outcomes

Top Priorities

Scientific steering committees regularly meet to identify and prioritize the current and future research needs of the regenerative medicine portfolio. Results of these discussions have led to the identification of a number of research focus areas.

Regenerative medicine

Regenerative medicine research has been focused in the following areas:

  • Restoration of damaged or lost tissues including bone, nerve, muscle and vasculature
  • Restoration of form and function to lost or damaged hard and soft tissues of the craniomaxillofacial region
  • Repair or regeneration of the skin after thermal injury with the aim of healing with reduced scarring and more aesthetically pleasing skin
  • The transfer of vascularized composite tissue that may include skin, muscle, bone, and nerve as a “replacement part”

Work In Progress

Examples of regenerative medicine research projects under way include:

Regenerative medicine skin substitute
  • Engineered nerve, vascular, muscle, connective and bone tissues
  • Reconstruction and regeneration of the complex facial architecture and features
  • Skin substitutes and burn injury inhibitors
  • Hand and face transplant procedures, immunomodulation and tolerance induction technologies
  • Engineered pelvic, anal, and genital tissues