Feeds

DARPA at phase 2 on human 'regeneration' tech

Zaphod Beeblebrox™ extra limbs for multitaskers?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Famed US military mad-professor bureau DARPA has inked a second deal with Massachusetts researchers to develop ways of "regenerating" human body tissues cut, shot or blown off in combat. The new biotech therapies would employ the same methods used by newts in growing replacement limbs.

News of the award comes courtesy of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), which announced the $570,000 agreement between DARPA and WPI-spawned company CellThera yesterday. CellThera is expected to work with the university's bioengineering department in delivering Phase II of DARPA's "restorative injury repair" programme.

DARPA seems to be looking for full-on, science-fiction level regen therapies here. According to the military wild-science boffins:

The vision is to fully restore the function of complex tissue (muscle, nerves, skin, etc) after traumatic injury on the battlefield... with true “wound healing” by regeneration of fully differentiated, functional tissue.

The program will achieve its goals by... processes of morphogenesis leading to anatomic and functional restoration [which] will culminate in the restoration of a functional multi-tissue structure in a mammal.

Under Phase I, CellThera and WPI bioengineers "succeeded in reprogramming mouse and human skin cells to act more like stem cells, able to form the early structures needed to begin the process of re-growing lost tissues" - a process described by DARPA as "generating a blastema in an otherwise non-regenerating animal".

A blastema is the boffinry term for the clump of special progenitor cells which appears at injury sites in creatures naturally able to regenerate themselves, such as newts or salamanders. Another name, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, is "regeneration bud". When you cut off a salamander's leg, for instance, a blastema appears at the stump and then grows into a new leg with muscles, nerves etc all complete.

It seems then that the Massachusetts boffins have already produced basic regen buds, potentially capable of growing into new working body parts - at least for mice.

"We are very pleased to be moving into the next phase of this work," said Raymond Page, WPI biotech prof.

We might all wish the prof luck and look forward to the day when limbs, buttocks etc cruelly snatched away before their time by the violence of the enemy, drunk drivers or horrific household accidents can simply be regrown. Or indeed to the day when we might, like Zaphod Beeblebrox, choose to sprout an extra arm - perhaps for critical multitasking applications involving drinks or complicated game peripherals.

The only people genuinely likely to be upset by this prospect would seem to be the rival DARPA-funded boffins engaged in developing the rocketfuelled, steam-powered cybernetic arm. The spraycan wound-spackle guys might still be OK, as presumably severed limbs etc would still need to be stabilised while regrowth took place. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.