The reconstruction of skeletal muscle tissue either lost by traumatic injury, tumor ablation, or due to congenital abnormalities is hampered by the lack of availability of functional substitutes to this native tissue.
In the laboratory of McGowan Institute deputy director Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD, initial studies have focused on the use of small intestinal submucosa scaffolds to replace partial lost gastrocnemius muscle and Achilles tendon. These studies have shown that this material is capable of stimulating restoration of significant muscle mass and restitution of the musculotendinous junction restoring functionality to a damaged limb. This new muscle growth is both contractile and innervated and comprises a mixed muscle fiber population similar to the native muscle that was lost.
Dr. Badylak, along with McGowan Institute faculty member J. Peter Rubin, MD, recently conducted a study to assess mechanical strength and function in subjects undergoing Musculotendinous Tissue Unit Repair and Reinforcement (MTURR) with the use of biologic scaffolds for the restoration of both mechanical strength and function in these subjects. This study formally evaluated healing and return of function after an extracellular matrix device implantation in male and female subjects participating at the University of Pittsburgh under the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery who suffer from injury with loss of skeletal muscle tissue. Other McGowan Institute affiliated faculty members participating in this study included Neill Turner, PhD and Michael Boninger, MD.
In the context of military combat wounds, the morbidity associated with severe soft tissue injury can be significant, accounting for over 80% of all surgical amputations.