Historic research launch aimed at helping veterans

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – There is a major research initiative aimed at helping veterans. At the University of Connecticut they are growing limbs –  with our wounded warriors in mind.

Noted surgeon-scientist Dr. Cato Laurencin at UConn Health is leading a monumental challenge in the field of regenerative engineering.  The task before a team of scientists, engineers and clinicians — something never done before — growing a human knee within seven years and an entire limb in 15.

“We’ve been able to regenerate tissues in bone, ligament and tendon, ” explained Dr. Laurencin. “But now we are going to face the grand challenge of being able to regenerate whole limbs using a combination of different technologies.”

The mission of the HEAL project — Hartford Engineering a Limb — is to build upon the advancements already made to develop game-changing regenerative therapies.

Dr. Laurencin said, “We think that for instance that fat derived stem cells from adults are fantastic and we think we can combine that with work we are doing with material science and also some of the work in terms of developmental biology.”

Dr. Laurencin stressed that while science is a motivator, the team is motivated by people, those living with limb injury or loss.

Particularly — the men and women in uniform.

He said, The work is really dedicated to them in terms of trying to create solutions that can help them.”

Army veteran Rebecca Wareing among those listening.

“It’s just great,” she said,”Tthat we are remembering our veterans and we’re recognizing the challenge that a lot of the veterans coming back today face — particularly those who’ve lost limbs.  And so the technology that they are pioneering here in Connecticut could improve the quality of life for so many vets.”

Dr. Laurencin makes it clear that this is a long term project.

There will be five different teams working on materials, adult stem cells to development of biology.




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