When more than 20% of a muscle is damaged, as is common for soldiers wounded in recent overseas conflicts, the tissue can’t regenerate, and a stiff scar forms in place of the missing muscle, which often leads to significant disability. To address this issue, A multi-institution research team led by the University of Pittsburgh secured a $22 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a device combining artificial intelligence, bioelectronics and regenerative medicine to regrow muscle tissue, especially after combat injuries. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, Rice, University of Vermont, University of Wisconsin and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are also part of this four-year initiative (DARPA BETR).
The REPAIR Patch will be developed and tested in an animal model of volumetric muscle loss (VML). Our research goal is to evaluate muscle and nerve function during recovery from injury. We also assess nerve regeneration processes during chronic nerve stimulation, specifically sciatic nerve. For nerve stimulation and measurements of muscle activities (EMG), implantable devices will be used to schedule stimulating and recording which are repeated at multiple timepoints throughout a 24-hour schedule with battery life up to 12 months.
Schematic shows the bioengineered patch that will allow for enhanced and accelerated wound healing.
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