Regenerative medicine, which takes advantage of the body's natural healing powers to restore or replace damaged tissue and organs, is one of many lines of research under investigation at
"We're very excited to have this opportunity to complete the work we started five years ago on the technologies we promised for the injured warrior," said Mikos, director of the BRC-based
Rice will administer a grant of approximately
Mikos and Kasper will continue to work closely with
Wong expects the civilian population will benefit from AFIRM-II even before its military clients.
Wong said that would likely result in civilian trials before treatments are adopted for battlefield use. "The military is very sensitive about using technologies that are still considered experimental to treat soldiers," he said. Consequently, treatments would likely be submitted for approval to the
The Rice and UTHealth laboratories are also working with specialists at
"We're not only emphasizing our strengths, but also building alliances with other groups and institutions," Mikos said.
Terms of the grant require that discoveries by the partners be tested and compared so the most promising therapies can be brought to clinical trials.
The first phase of AFIRM resulted in clinical studies of face transplantation, minimally invasive surgery for craniofacial injuries, a lower-dose anti-rejection regimen after kidney transplantation, scar reduction treatments, fat grafting for reconstructive surgery and new treatments for burns.
Along with facial and skull reconstruction by Rice and UTHealth, AFIRM-II researchers will focus on restoring function to severely traumatized limbs, skin regeneration for burn injuries, new treatments to prevent the rejection of transplants such as face and hands and reconstruction of genital and urinary organs and the lower abdomen.
"When warriors come back from the battlefield with serious life-changing injuries, it is our job to find new and innovative ways to help them," said Maj.
"The science of regenerative medicine is one of the ways we fulfill our promise to service members who put themselves in harm's way, that we will work our hardest and do our very best to take care of them," he said.
The AFIRM-II partners, known collectively as the
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