The institute is part of
The grant came from the
Friday's announcement at the institute will feature Dr.
Among the research areas are biologic scaffolds to regenerate muscles; hand transplants; spray-on treatment for burns; skin substitutes for treating burns; and preventing scar formation.
The institute has shared the lead role in an academic consortium with the
If the event does involve a renewing of the
The institute is one of six groups participating in a
Atala said the federal grant will enable the institute to add researchers to bolster its staff to about 30.
The goal is to develop a "body on a chip" that will be used to develop countermeasures for sarin, ricin and such viruses as Ebola. Regenerative therapies use the body's natural healing powers to restore or replace damaged tissue and organs.
One reason for the
The project involves using human cells to create tiny organ-like structures that mimic the function of the heart, liver, lung and blood vessels. Placed on a two-inch chip, these structures will be connected to a system of fluid channels and sensors to provide online monitoring of individual organs and the overall organ system.
"Miniature lab-engineered, organ-like hearts, lungs, livers and blood vessels -- linked together with a circulating blood substitute -- will be used both to predict the effects of chemical and biologic agents and to test the effectiveness of potential treatments," Atala said.
The circulating blood substitute will keep the cells alive and can be used to introduce chemical or biologic agents, as well as potential therapies, into the system. Hollow channels will guide the toxins or therapies that are being evaluated from one tissue to the next, and sensors will measure real-time temperature, oxygen levels, pH and other factors.
Atala said the approach has the potential to reduce and potentially eliminate the need for testing in animals, which researchers say is expensive, slow and has results that aren't always applicable to people.
Research into deadly viruses and toxins has become more topical and pivotal in recent months with U.S. intelligence reports that the Syrian government has been using chemical weapons as part of its military tactics in the country's civil war.
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