Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine
WFIRM's goal is to apply the principles of regenerative medicine to repair or replace diseased tissues and organs. Among other goals, WFIRM scientists are looking for ways to create insulin-producing cells in the laboratory, engineered blood vessels for heart bypass surgery and apply regenerative medicine technologies to battlefield injuries, the latter by leading a $75 million federal initiative with the U.S. Department of Defense. WFIRM is working to develop more than 30 different organs and tissues in the laboratory.
Anthony Atala, M.D., is the director of the institute, which is located in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter in downtown Winston-Salem. Atala was recruited by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in 2004, and brought many of his team members from the Laboratory for Tissue Engineering and Cellular Therapeutics at the Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School. Notable achievements announced at WFIRM have been the first lab-grown organ, a urinary bladder, the artificial urinary bladder to be implanted into a human, as well as stem cells harvested from the amniotic fluid of pregnant women. These stems cells are pluripotent, meaning that they can be manipulated to differentiate into various types of mature cells that make up nerve, muscle, bone, and other tissues while avoiding the problems of tumor formation and ethical concerns that are associated with embryonic stem cells.
- "Lab-grown bladders 'a milestone'". BBC News. 3 April 2006.
- Atala A, Bauer SB, Soker S, Yoo JJ, Retik AB (April 2006). "Tissue-engineered autologous bladders for patients needing cystoplasty". Lancet. 367 (9518): 1241–6. PMID 16631879. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68438-9.
- Weiss, Rick (8 January 2007). "Scientists See Potential In Amniotic Stem Cells". The Washington Post.
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