Regenerative medicine uses clinical procedures to repair or replace damaged or diseased tissues and organs, versus some traditional therapies that just treat symptoms.
To realize the vast potential of tissue engineering and other techniques aimed at repairing damaged or diseased tissues and organs, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC established the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The McGowan Institute serves as a single base of operations for the University’s leading scientists and clinical faculty working to develop tissue engineering, cellular therapies, and artificial and biohybrid organ devices.
The McGowan Institute is the most ambitious regenerative program in the nation, coupling biology, clinical science, and engineering. Success in our mission will impact patients’ lives, bring economic benefit, serve to train the next generation of researchers, and advance the expertise of our faculty in the basic sciences, engineering, and clinical sciences. Our efforts proudly build upon the pioneering achievements of the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute.
While there are certain select therapies based on regenerative medicine principles now in clinical use, much work lies ahead to realize the potential of this growing field. Advances in the underlying science, engineering strategies to harness this science, and successful commercial activities are all required to bring new therapies to patients.
The McGowan Institute sponsors a podcast series on regenerative medicine. Listen to some of the world's leading regenerative medicine researchers and physicians talk about their work.
Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON) is a rare maternally inherited mitochondrial genetic disease, characterized by the degeneration of retinal ganglion cells that results in brutal and irreversible vision loss that can lead to legal blindness, and mainly affects adolescents and young adults. LHON is associated with painless, sudden loss of central vision in the 1st eye, with the 2nd eye sequentially impaired. It is a symmetric disease with poor functional visual recovery. 97% of patients have bilateral involvement at less than one year of onset of vision loss, and in 25% of cases, vision loss occurs in both eyes simultaneously. The estimated incidence of LHON is approximately 800-1,200 new patients who lose their sight every year in the United States and the European Union.
Regenerative medicine focuses on the repair or replacement of tissue lost to injury, disease, or age, primarily via the enhancement of endogenous stem cell function or the transplantation of exogenous stem cells. The focus of rehabilitation science is on the use of mechanical and other stimuli to promote functional recovery. The field of Regenerative Rehabilitation integrates these two approaches, with the ultimate goal of optimizing outcomes. It is where applied biophysics meets tissue engineering and cellular therapies.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have combined synthetic biology with a machine-learning algorithm to create human liver organoids with blood- and bile-handling systems. When implanted into mice with failing livers, the lab-grown replacement livers extended life.
At the University of Pittsburgh, the Center for Military Medicine Research (CMMR) recognizes the urgency for innovating to meet the demands of an increasingly complex security environment. Researchers have focused current and future efforts in the areas of trauma, emergency, and critical care. In doing so, the multi-disciplinary and multi-organizational-led team aims to significantly enhance the trauma care of the warfighter with direct relevance to civilian trauma care while also spurring the economic growth in the Pittsburgh region.