Medical Moment: How tissue regeneration is changing reconstructive surgery

Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 5:40 PM EDT
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(WNDU) - Every year 4.5 million people undergo reconstructive surgeries.

Although surgeons can help repair the problem, many times, the damaged area will never get back to 100 percent.

Now, Rice University bioengineers are creating scaffolds made out of decellularized skeletal muscle.

“Our goal here is to not just create new tissue, but to create new functional tissue,” said Katie Hogan, a PhD candidate at Rice University.

It’s the latest step in true tissue regeneration, using natural materials, not synthetic ones.

Researchers start with muscle taken from a rabbit and break it down into proteins to create the matrix of nanofibers. This is known as a scaffold and scientists can grow it as large, or as small, as needed.

“We would be able to implant this mesh directly because it already has the proteins and biochemical cues that we would find in muscle. It should ideally recruit cells from your body to help come in and fill that gap and to form new muscle fibers,” Hogan explained.

In rats, it took just eight weeks for researchers to see substantial new muscle fiber formation, and once enough muscle is formed, the scaffold will degrade and be replaced by new muscle.

Researchers say using natural materials is important because natural materials will help the tissue become more functional.

Hogan and a team of other researchers are using electro spinning to help with reconstructive surgery.

Hogan and other researchers put a skeletal muscle into a conductive solvent and extrude it from a needle.

The electric field between the needle and a plate draws out the material as a microfiber which is then deposited onto the plate. The material on the plate is then collected and used by different collection devices to help Hogan and her team change the orientation of the fibers that they’ve collected.

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