If a patient's food tube or airway is damaged, scar tissue can form, which makes breathing or swallowing impossible. Currently, there are no treatments for these conditions other than to remove the damaged areas. McGowan Institute researchers — led by Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD — are working on a method that uses natural scaffolds seeded with the patient's own cells to encourage the growth of healthy tissue instead of scar tissue. In early studies, a damaged section of the food tube was replaced with a specially formed scaffold constructed from a material already being used in humans. Within 90 days, the scaffold was replaced with functional tissue.