Regenerative Medicine Today

The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine presents “Regenerative Medicine Today,” an audio podcast series that features interviews with scientists, clinicians, and patients. The series address emerging science and new therapies, where the primary strategy is to repair/replace tissue or organs that have been damaged by disease, trauma, or congenital issues vs. the classical approach that is used today to treat the symptoms of the insult to the body.

For more information about the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, visit:

McGowan Institute Research Site
McGowan Institute Clinical Site

Regenerative Medicine Today Podcast #21

Organ transplantation is a magnificent display both of medicine and the human spirit: The achievements of people who have received new hearts and other organs are truly amazing. Many of those triumphs are showcased in the U.S. Transplant Games, a biennial, Olympic-style athletic contest organized by the National Kidney Foundation. Events include swimming, table tennis, golf, basketball, track and field, tennis, bowling, racquetball, and volleyball.

Our guests for this podcast are Shelley Zomak and Judi Vensak, managers of Team Pittsburgh during the 2006 Transplant Games in Louisville, Ky. Ms. Zomak and Ms. Vensak also lead the organization of the 2008 Transplant Games to be held in Pittsburgh. In today’s podcast, they’ll tell us how they became involved in the Transplant Games, share their experiences at the 2006 games, and tell us what to expect from the 2008 Transplant Games, which will likely bring more than 7,000 observers and 1,400 athletes to Pittsburgh.

The 2008 U.S. Transplant Games will be held in Pittsburgh, Pa. on July 11-16, 2008. For more information, visit Team Pittsburgh.

Hosts Leah Kauffman and John Murphy. Interview by Leah Kauffman.

For more information about the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, visit:
McGowan Institute Research Site
McGowan Institute Patient Site
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Regenerative Medicine Today Podcast #20

In our last two podcasts we learned about the bioengineering and clinical use of artificial heart technology. In today’s podcast, you’ll hear about another approach to treatment for heart failure using lab-grown tissues. Dr. William Wagner is working to reconstruct damaged arteries and veins with scaffolds, and is leading a team that is developing a tissue engineered cardiac patch that could help to strengthen heart muscle that has been damaged by a heart attack. Dr. Wagner also will tell us about his work to improve the interface between artificial devices and the body’s tissues, and about a new imaging technique his lab is working on that could help physicians view whether a transplanted heart has been rejected without performing a biopsy.

Dr. William Wagner is a deputy director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and associate professor of surgery, chemical engineering, and bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. To learn more about Dr. Wagner’s research, please click here.

Hosts Leah Kauffman and John Murphy. Interview by Leah Kauffman.

For more information about the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, visit:
McGowan Institute Research Site
McGowan Institute Patient Site
McGowan Institute on Facebook

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Regenerative Medicine Today Podcast #19

Our last podcast featured the bioengineer responsible for much of today’s artificial heart technology. Now meet Dr. Robert Kormos, a clinician who has used those artificial hearts to help people survive until donor hearts were available. Some patients even recovered enough heart function to eliminate the need for transplantation.

Dr. Kormos is the medical director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and director of the UPMC Artificial Heart Program. As the Artificial Heart Program celebrates its 20th anniversary, patients of the program have been collectively sustained by their artificial hearts for more than 50 years. In this podcast, Dr. Kormos discusses the evolution of his program and the clinical use of artificial hearts, and he tells us how regenerative medicine will continue to transform the treatment of heart failure.

For more information about Dr. Kormos, click here.

For information on artificial heart treatments at UPMC, click here.

For information on heart device research at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, click here.

Hosts Leah Kauffman and John Murphy. Interview by Leah Kauffman.

For more information about the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, visit:
McGowan Institute Research Site
McGowan Institute Patient Site
McGowan Institute on Facebook

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Regenerative Medicine Today Podcast #18

Twenty years ago, a pioneering team of clinicians and engineers had a vision to use a mechanical heart-assist device as an aid to a patient with a failing heart, and to ascertain if such a heart assist device could serve as a “bridge” for an ailing heart until a transplantable organ became available.

While the team consisted of many diverse disciplines, the lead biomedical engineer was Dr. Harvey Borovetz.  In this interview, Dr. Borovetz provides a retrospective look at the initial days of what has become a relatively routine clinical procedure to support a weakened heart with a ventricular assist device until a heart transplant can be implemented. Dr. Borovetz shares the progress that has been made in the engineering as well as the clinical procedures.

He also provides a glimpse at the future, sharing his vision on the emerging technology development that he is leading to provide equivalent cardiac care for infants and children.

For more information, the following web sites may be of interest:

Hosts Leah Kauffman and John Murphy. Interview by Leah Kauffman.

For more information about the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, visit:
McGowan Institute Research Site
McGowan Institute Patient Site
McGowan Institute on Facebook

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Regenerative Medicine Today Podcast #17

Fifty years ago, Uncas Whitaker – the founder of the Harrisburg, Pa-based electrical connector company AMP — foresaw what engineers could do for medicine and human health. In 1975, he established a nonprofit foundation to help advance medical science and heal the sick and injured.

Until its planned closing in summer 2006, the Whitaker Foundation contributed more than $700 million to various universities and medical schools, primarily to support biomedical engineering education and research. The foundation helped to create 30 biomedical engineering programs and helped finance the construction of 13 university buildings, many of them subsequently bearing the name Whitaker in some form.

In podcast #17, Dr. Peter Katona, who served the Whitaker foundation as President and Chief Executive Officer from 2000 to 2006, will tell us about the full breadth of the Whitaker Foundation’s influence on the field of bioengineering, why its leaders chose to end the foundation’s run, and share his sage advice to young people considering bioengineering careers. (Dr. Katona ought to know: nearly 1,500 young researchers began their careers with Whitaker Foundation funding.) For more on the Whitaker Foundation, visit their web site.

Hosts Leah Kauffman and John Murphy. Interview by Leah Kauffman.

For more information about the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, visit:
McGowan Institute Research Site
McGowan Institute Patient Site
McGowan Institute on Facebook

Regenerative Medicine Today Podcast #16

In podcast #16, learn about two technologies that help keep tissues oxygenated in dire times.

Dr. William Federspiel is developing devices that do some of the lungs’ critical work of adding oxygen to blood and removing carbon dioxide. These aren’t ventilators, which mechanically inflate the lungs with air, but small devices that can be inserted into a vein through an incision in the femoral artery.  Known as respiratory assist catheters, they can unburden the lungs for a short time while they recover from disease or injury.

Dr. Marina Kameneva, meanwhile, has found a compound derived from aloe vera that boosts survival rates during episodes of massive blood loss. Known as a drag reducing polymer, the compound seems to help oxygen-carrying red blood cells reach needy tissues even when there’s not a lot of blood to go around.

Dr. Federspiel is William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Chemical Engineering, Surgery and Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. He directs research in the Medical Devices Laboratory: Biotransport, Pulmonary, and Cardiovascular, a core laboratory of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Dr. Kameneva is a Research Professor of Surgery in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and Director of the Artificial Blood Program at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Hosts Leah Kauffman and John Murphy. Interview by Leah Kauffman.

For more information about the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, visit:
McGowan Institute Research Site
McGowan Institute Patient Site
McGowan Institute on Facebook

Regenerative Medicine Today Podcast #15

In podcast #15, we’ll meet two researchers with very different approaches to tissue regeneration. We met both at the 2006 Regenerate World Congress in April.

First we’ll hear from Dr. Kevin Shakesheff  of the University of Nottingham. He is developing new scaffolds from a familiar material: polylactic acid, the same stuff that makes up absorbable sutures. Dr. Shakesheff imagines outfitting surgeons with a syringe full of polylactic acid that is enhanced with growth factors — or even the patient’s own cells — to inject into an area that needs help to heal.

Our second interviewee, Dr. Nicholas Rhodes of the University of Liverpool, would like to do away with scaffolds altogether. Rather than introduce bioengineered materials into patients, he’d rather persuade a patient’s cells to do their own bioengineering. Dr. Rhodes is prompting regeneration by harnessing and directing the body’s natural inflammatory response.

Hosts Leah Kauffman and John Murphy. Interview by Leah Kauffman.

For more information about the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, visit:
McGowan Institute Research Site
McGowan Institute Patient Site
McGowan Institute on Facebook

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Regenerative Medicine Today Podcast #14

In podcast #14 we’ll meet two more researchers who visited Pittsburgh for the 2006 Regenerate World Congress.

Dr. Malla Padidam of the biotech company RheoGene.

describes their gene switch, a molecule that can turn a gene on or off at a particular time to precisely guide the growth of transplanted tissues or cells. Another RheoGene product uses engineered enzymes that recognize certain sequences of DNA, so that when a scientist introduces a new gene it inserts into just one location. This is an improvement over current genetic engineering technology that can’t control where in a chromosome a gene inserts itself, possibly hindering whether or not it functions.

David S. Smith of the Pittsburgh office of Pepper Hamilton LLP is a corporate lawyer who helps scientists transform their work from laboratory investigations into clinical products. Mr. Smith focuses on intellectual property transactions, regulatory issues, and licensing. His corporate practice is concentrated in the organization, financing and growth of life sciences companies, and he is an authority on the legal issues surrounding the use of human biological materials. Mr. Smith also is the co-founder and co-chair of the ETG Executive Forum, an annual workshop on the commercialization of engineered tissue products and regenerative therapies, and he co-authors a column on FDA regulatory initiatives that appears monthly in Genetic Engineering News.

Hosts Leah Kauffman and John Murphy. Interview by Leah Kauffman.

For more information about the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, visit:
McGowan Institute Research Site
McGowan Institute Patient Site
McGowan Institute on Facebook

Regenerative Medicine Today Podcast #13

Bone Tissue Engineering

In podcast #13, we talk with Professor Jöns Hilborn and Dr. Ivan Martin, two experts in bone tissue engineering who attended the 2006 Regenerate World Congress in April.

Professor Hilborn of the Department of Materials Chemistry at Sweden’s Uppsala University is engineering cells to produce customized extracellular matrices, which his lab uses as scaffolds to guide the growth of new bone – eventually for the repair of skull and dental defects in humans. Professor Hilborn’s lab also develops new biomaterials that better match the natural tissues in which they are implanted. Finally, Professor Hilborn discusses the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS), which he serves as President-Elect.

Dr. Martin of the University Hospital of Basel, Switzerland uses a bioreactor – a sort of incubator – to encourage the generation of cartilage and bone. In a clinical trial soon to start, Dr. Martin’s team will seed ceramic particles with patients’ own bone marrow-derived progenitor cells, nurture them inside a bioreactor, then use the material to repair damaged disks in the spine. Dr. Martin hopes to expand this approach so that it can be used to span large bone breaks and defects, and he has an ambitious plan to make affordable bioreactors a standard part of the orthopedist’s toolbox.

Hosts Leah Kauffman and John Murphy. Interview by Leah Kauffman.

For more information about the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, visit:
McGowan Institute Research Site
McGowan Institute Patient Site
McGowan Institute on Facebook

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Regenerative Medicine Today Podcast #12

Science Outside the Laboratory

In podcast #12, we talk with two more experts who attended the 2006 Regenerate World Congress in April: policy advisor Dr. David Williams and Ms. Mary Ann Liebert, a publisher.

Dr. Williams is an internationally recognized scientist and a leader in the development of policy and regulations related to regenerative medicine.  He leads the United Kingdom Centre for Tissue Engineering (UKCTE), a research collaboration among the University of Manchester and the University of Liverpool. The focus of the UKCTE is to extend the base of scientific knowledge that underpins tissue engineering and to translate this knowledge to the development of commercial products and clinical treatments for healing injured and diseased tissues.

Ms. Liebert is the publisher more than 60 respected books and scientific journals. Founded in 1980, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. is universally acknowledged for publishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals, books, and trade magazines in the most promising areas of biotechnology, biomedical research/life sciences, clinical medicine and surgery, and law.  Such publications not only contribute significantly to the literature but play an active and important role in the advancement of their respective fields.

Hosts Leah Kauffman and John Murphy. Interview by Leah Kauffman.

For more information about the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, visit:
McGowan Institute Research Site
McGowan Institute Patient Site
McGowan Institute on Facebook

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