Tulane receives grant for study of tissue restoration after traumatic injury

The Department of Defense is investing millions in challenging scientists to develop a way for humans to restore tissues lost to traumatic injury. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded a one-year grant of nearly $3.9 million to a group of scientists led by Ken Muneoka, professor of cell and molecular biology at Tulane University. The multi-center study is one of only two projects in the country funded by a DARPA grant aimed at tissue restoration.

Using the salamander and mouse as models that respond differently to a severe injury, the scientists will explore ways they can harness the body's natural healing process to heal deep wounds that involve bone, muscle, nerves and soft tissues. Scientists hope that achievements in the program will lead to the long-term goal of regeneration of tissue in humans.

The salamander is the only animal that can make a blastema, a mass of cells growing at the wound site that fully restores lost tissue, Muneoka says. The same type of "bud" is produced when a child loses only the tip of a finger, yet this capability is lost by adulthood. The researchers will focus on stimulating the regeneration process in a mouse model by making a blastema for the mouse to regrow digits.


Collaborating on the project are researchers from the University at California at Irvine: Susan Bryant, Dean of Biological Sciences; David Gardiner, research biologist in the department of development and cell biology; Elizabeth Rugg, associate researcher of dermatology, and Doug Wallace, Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences and Molecular Medicine; Tanja Dominko, a scientist with CellThera, Inc.; and Eugenia Wang, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Louisville. The DARPA grant is for one year and the agency could provide further funding for up to three additional years.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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