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Regenerative Medicine May be Key to Helping Cure Birth Injuries

Science Daily published an article last week that is likely of interest to those in our area whose children have suffered an Illinois birth injury or defect. As our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers know, many of the injuries sustained by children during development in the womb or birth are currently without a cure. Repairing physical malformations, brain injuries and other ailments are usually beyond the ability of our current leading medical experts. However, one area of medicine that offers clear hope in the future for helping some who have suffered these injuries in “regenerative medicine.” As one might expect, regenerative medicine refers to treatments that allows the body to heal itself or re-grow various body parts in order to cure ailments. The field combines chemistry, biology, and engineering to focus on the growth of tissues and organs. Stem cells and their growth capabilities often lie at the heart of regenerative treatments.

According to the new article, nanofilaments and “noodle gels” may be the latest tools in regenerative medicine. This is according to a lecture presented last week at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. The lecturer, Dr. Samuel I. Stupp, suggested that the synthetic objects represent a major chemical advance in the area of regenerative medicine. Dr. Stupp is from Northwestern University and is the director of BioNanotechnology in Medicine.

The Illinois birth injury lawyers realize that a large part of the regenerative medicine challenge is figuring out ways to coax different cells in the body to conduct various repairs. The nanofilaments are one way to do that. The cells are a nanostructure composed of small pieces of protein which automatically glue themselves together. It is important to keep the size of these objects in perspective. If 50,000 of them were put together they would still not be as wide as a human hair.

Essentially these objects act as a scaffold upon which other things can be built. For example, medical experts were able to use the objects to form new blood vessels in mice. This was done by attaching a signaling substance called VEGF that is used to promote blood vessel re-growth. In the past, using VGEF by itself in the body was insufficient, because the material quickly broke down. However, by growing over the nanofilment scaffolding, the VEGF is given more time to spur growth that lasts. Over time (a few weeks) the nanofilaments actually dissolve and disappear. However, the growth that was spurred, the blood vessel, stays in place.

The “noodle gels” are spaghetti like objects that may solve a long-standing regenerative medicine problem by delivering signals, proteins, and stem cells in certain directions to precisely target re-growth in certain areas. For example, if a child suffers brain damage as a result of a birth injury, the gels may be able to point the growth inducing substance to the exact spot of the brain where healing is needed. In this ways, these tools may one day allow medical professionals to “fix” problems that currently go without any remedy.

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