Transplants entering era of restoring pre-injury form and function

Transplant surgery is entering an era of new complexity, where complex surgeries will become standardized and the goal will be restoration of pre-injury form and function rather than merely reconstruction, the surgeon who led Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s face transplant team said Monday.

Surgeries conducted so far are designed for each individual, Pomahac said he expects face transplant procedures to become standardized and the 15- to 20-hour operation to become more streamlined.

Research into stem cell biology and regenerative medicine has great promise to produce results with a rapid transition from the lab to the patient.

Other speakers reviewed an array of advances in the field, including the discovery of a protein that can serve as an early indicator of kidney damage, work toward understanding and boosting the kidney’s innate ability to heal itself, the discovery of lung stem cells and their work in repairing damaged lungs in mice, the use of natural models in areas like new kinds of surgical adhesive, and the growing understanding of the importance of blood vessels in controlling cancer.

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