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December 22nd, 2008
09:56 AM ET

New Army technology could save soldiers' lives

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/TECH/12/22/army.technology/art.armyrobot.jpg caption="This remotely controlled robot, called BEAR, could help remove injured soldiers from battlefields."]
Regrowing a fingertip cut off in an accident sounds like something from a futuristic movie. But with innovative technology developed by the U.S. Army, such regrowth is possible today.

This research project and a hundred others were on display this month at the 26th Army Science Convention. Some the greatest minds in science from around the world gathered at the four-day conference to exchange ideas and showcase collaborative projects between the Army's research laboratories, universities and partner industries.

The main goal is to develop technology to make soldiers safer and more effective, said Thomas H. Killion, the Army's chief scientist.

The Army's regenerative medicine study combined properties from the intestinal lining and the urinary bladder to create a regenerative substance called Extracellular Matrix.

The cream-colored crystallized powder, called "magic dust," boosts the body's natural tendency to repair itself, said U.S. Army Biological Scientist Sgt. Gen Rossman. When the matrix is applied to a missing digit or limb, "the body thinks it's back in the womb," Rossman said.

One civilian participated in the regenerative-medicine study after cutting off the tip of his finger in a model plane's propeller. Researchers continually applied the matrix to the wound, and after four weeks, the body grew skin and tissue to replenish the damaged area.

The U.S. military branches have begun a consortium with private institutions to develop treatments for severely injured troops. With the help of grants, the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine is studying nerve and vein transplantation, treating burns without scarring and regeneration of tissue, skin and even bone.

Through both animal studies and civilian clinical trials, the institute is developing therapies for the large number of soldiers injured by improvised explosive devices and other explosives in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We are working on trying to regenerate limbs, to repair limbs and to keep them from being amputated," institute Project Director Col. Bob Vandre said.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • War on Terror
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Heather,ca

    I think it is amazing and wonderful what the military is doing to advance and evolve the technology our people use.

    December 22, 2008 at 11:46 am |
  2. Cindy

    This is really cool! Who would have thought that scientists would ever develop something that can make you regrow some of your body parts. That is wild. With more testing of that no telling how far they can get that to go.

    The growing of skin has been done for a while now. They have used that treatment on burn patients for years and years. My uncle was severely burned when he was electrocuted at work by an over head power line that was not supposed to even be on the property. He was taken to the Augusta Burn Unit..where Travis Barker was taken also...and they cut off several areas from his side that wasn't burnt, took it into a lab and grew it to huge sizes to cover his wounds. And this was like 14 or so years ago.

    Cindy...Ga.

    December 22, 2008 at 10:27 am |