Regenerative med group aims at reconstructing injured soldiers

As head of the Pentagon's $250 million project on regenerative medicine, Dr. Joachim Kohn has pioneered several new technologies: degradable compounds for drug delivery, the use of polymers and tissue scaffolds to create new body parts or rebuild bone and nerves in war-damaged soldiers.

Wired magazine has published an in-depth look at Kohn's work at Rutgers University's life science building, which includes some notable firsts: Face transplants, an almost-completed ear replacement, as well as an "engineered skin substitute." And while the military could be the first customer for the technology, everything they're doing could help people damaged in accidents or civilian attacks.

In order to speed up the pace of development, the Pentagon created two big research groups to spearhead the work. Kohn's group includes 150 scientists working at top research institutions, including Harvard and the Mayo Clinic. A half dozen projects are either in the clinic now or will be soon, reports Wired. And a number of projects are headed into clinical studies in the next few years. But don't expect Kohn to dramatize the group's chances of success.

"Our field of regenerative medicine is today wildly overhyped," Kohn tells the magazine. "We have done very impressive things, but I don't want to make promises about therapies that maybe work in a lab, but [end up] not working in a person."

- here's the feature from Wired