ReSource, Volume 13, 2001 Page: 28
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Science Center colleagues have made great
strides. Adhesions, an almost inevitable
result of surgery, are scar tissues that form
during the healing process and glue together
derived from engineered
tissue may one day benefit
surgeons and their patients.
Cultures are grown from
human tissue broken down
to the cellular level, in
preparation for engineering
tissues or structures that are not supposed
to be connected.
"We're not meant to be wide open, sub-
ject to probing, gloved hands, instruments
and gauze," says Dimitrijevich. The injury to
the exposed surfaces creates a "glue" that
becomes "a surgeon's nightmare if he has
to go back into the body cavity." An anti-
adhesion material used in the chest cavity
and other surgery sites would be a boon
to surgeons and their patients.
Dimitrijevich and his staff are studying an
anti-adhesion patch derived from engineered
"We know that the anti-adhesion patches
have resolved adhesions in four to six
months," he says. "We know the protected
areas are free of adhesions, and the unpro-
tected areas form adhesions."
If warranted, three or four such patches
could be used in a surgery, he says.
Challenges and possibilities
Even with the recent success in the field
of tissue engineering, obstacles remain. Cells
must be expanded and introduced back into
their three-dimensional architecture without
being genetically altered or contaminated.
"This is a very serious quality-control cri-
terion," Dimitrijevich says. "You don't want
to implant anything that has a predisposi-
tion to be abnormal."
And there's the problem of rejection by
"How do we make these implants invisi-
ble or tolerated by the immune system?"
Dimitrijevich asks. "Today we can give you a
new heart, but then we put you on immuno-
suppressive drugs that will damage your
liver. We'll develop methods of disguising or
screening the implant, perhaps by secreting
compounds that say to the immune system,
'Don't come here ... there's nothing wrong
here.' This is not impossible."
With tissue engineering, few things, it
seems, are impossible. Also under develop-
ment are artificial organs such as hearts and
livers, as well as restoration of cells that
produce important hormones or enzymes.
The day grows nearer when surgeons will
routinely repair or replace body parts that
have failed due to disease, injury or aging.
"It really is Star Trek stuff," Dimitrijevich
says. "Wave a wand and you're healed. It's
still a dream, but a dream that is clearly in
the realm of possibility."
he Cardiovascular Research Insti- The research institutes have multi- drugs; royalties go back to the institu- the drug's safety, and phase two with
tute at the University of North
Texas Health Science Center at Fort
Worth is one of the center's six insti-
tutes created to conduct leading-edge
research on health issues that include
heart disease, cancer, vision, physical
medicine, public health and aging.
Through these institutes, Health Sci-
ence Center biomedical scientists and
clinical faculty members team up with
scientists and physicians from other
academic institutions, government
laboratories and the pharmaceutical,
medical device and biotechnology
disciplinary teams involved in every-
thing from basic discovery and clinical
research to clinical trials, outcomes
research and, ultimately, translational
research and product development.
Funding for clinical research comes
from the federal government through
the National Institutes of Health and
from the private sector through phar-
maceutical and biotech companies.
The sponsor of the research hires
physicians to conduct the clinical trial
in a variety of health-care settings.
Industry licenses intellectual prop-
erty from the institution and develops
tions and the individuals who did the
Before a pharmaceutical company
can begin testing in humans, it must
conduct extensive preclinical research
typically involving years of experi-
ments. The company provides this
data to the Food and Drug Adminis-
tration and requests approval to begin
testing the drug in humans.
Clinical testing in humans is usually
done in three phases, with each suc-
cessive phase involving a larger num-
ber of people. Phase one studies are
primarily concerned with assessing
its effectiveness. Phase three involves
large-scale testing of the drug for a
better understanding of its effective-
ness and possible adverse reactions.
A biotech center will eventually be
built in Fort Worth to house the
research institutes. In addition to the
Cardiovascular Research Institute, the
list includes the Institute for Cancer
Research, the North Texas Eye
Research Institute, the Physical Medi-
cine Institute, the Institute for Public
Health Research and the Institute for
Aging and Alzheimer's Disease
Here’s what’s next.
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University of North Texas. ReSource, Volume 13, 2001, periodical, 2001; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29774/m1/28/: accessed March 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting University Relations, Communications & Marketing department for UNT.