Smithfield Bioscience and the University of Virginia School of Engineering & Applied Science (UVA) announced a research partnership to explore and advance regenerative medicine technologies leveraging porcine bioproducts. According to Smithfield, the goal of the research is to develop and test a tissue-engineering process for skeletal muscle repair and regeneration using porcine-derived materials. Using porcine materials has specific advantages, including the ability to be muscle specific and making acceptance by the human body easier. “Nearly one million Americans suffer from injuries, disorders, and diseases that result in a significant amount of skeletal muscle loss each year,” said Courtney Stanton, vice president of Smithfield Bioscience and Renewable Bioproducts. “From our wounded veterans to babies born with a cleft lip to those who have suffered traumatic accidents, there is an overwhelming need for bioengineered skeletal muscle.” The goal of tissue engineering is to assemble functional constructs that restore, maintain, or improve damaged tissues or whole organs. Regenerative medicine is a broad field that includes tissue engineering but also incorporates research on self-healing – where the body uses its own systems, sometimes with help foreign biological material to recreate cells and rebuild tissues and organs. The terms tissue engineering” and “regenerative medicine” have become largely interchangeable, with both focusing on cures instead of just treatments for complex and often chronic diseases. UVA explains that while there has been a tremendous amount of money and time spent on research and development of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, the ability to manufacture the materials on a large scale does not yet exist. Their hope is that the partnership with Smithfield can change that. Smithfield Bioscience is a business within Smithfield Foods that focuses on biotechnology in areas of human therapeutics, tissue fabrication and regenerative medicine. The Smithfield and UVA research is part of a consortium of around 100 organizations collaborating under the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute which aims to accelerate research and manufacturing innovations in the field. (Sources: Smithfield, NIBIB, PharmTech)

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