Veteran's leg muscle regenerated with pig bladder hormones

Summary:Doctors initially recommended amputation when the soldier lost 70% of his leg muscles, but an experimental regenerative therapy using growth factors helped him regrow the lost tissue.

A mortar attack in Afghanistan destroyed most of the leg muscles of a US Marine, but now he can walk again after a regenerative treatment using growth factors helped his body regrow the lost tissue.

Shrapnel took out 70% of the muscles in Cpl. Isaias Hernandez’s right thigh, and doctors initially recommended amputation.

With funding from the Defense Department, researchers at McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh are developing an implantable ‘extracellular matrix’ that can regrow missing tissue and initiate healing.

The matrix is a biological scaffold enriched with proteins and experimental growth-promoting substances that recruit stem cells and other progenitor cells to the site of the injury – stimulating tissue regeneration and rebuilding lost muscle.

  1. First, Hernandez had to build up his remaining leg muscle by exercising rigorously.
  2. Then the surgeons inserted the matrix – containing growth hormones derived from pig bladders – into an incision in his thigh.
  3. A few weeks later, his leg began growing in both bulk and strength.

If this works on a wider scale, it would be a huge breakthrough… because skeletal muscle, the kind attached to bones, can't normally regenerate after injuries.

But before that happens, the experimental treatment will have to go through a lot rigorous trials.

Some older regeneration news:

Via Popular Science.

Image from

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Topics: Innovation


Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter.

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