PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh say they've been able to grow muscle for seriously injured patients using material from pigs.
Nick Clark lost large volumes of muscle in his lower left leg, when he injured it in a skiing accident nearly ten years ago. He was one of 5 patients who took part in an experiment to test a new stem cell technique using material from pigs.
Thin sheets of the material are implanted, coaxing the patients' stem cells to the injury site. Then, the new material and cells along with the remaining muscle, are stretched through intense physical therapy.
Dr. Steve Badylak, UPMC Department of Surgery says, "they get these signals. They say, okay I get it, I'm supposed to line up like this, and they recruit their own new blood supply, their own new nerves and they basically start forming new tissue this way. This is a major step forward."
Patients in this study were all treated at least six months after the initial injury. Nick says his balance his better, he can put weight on his leg, jump, and no longer wears an orthotic. Researchers says the technique may be even more effective in patients treated immediately after their injuries.