Trauma and Emergencies

"Organ and tissue banking can bring regenerative medicine into completely new contexts, allowing lifesaving transplants for victims of accidents, wounded soldiers, and many others. And cryobanking heart, liver, and even brain tissue could be a game changer for bioterrorism preparedness."

— Lt. Col. Luis Alvarez, PhD Professor, U.S. Military Academy, West Point Former Deputy Director,
Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine

A vast array of existing treatments from transplantation and regenerative medicine can be be lifesaving or life-changing for victims of traumatic injury, but preservation advances are needed to make them widely available. Extending preservation times for complex tissues could have a transformative impact on:

  • Limb, hand and face transplantation, by addressing one of the key obstacles to widespread use, allowing for improved matching and making new strategies in immune tolerance induction available
  • Reconstructive surgery, by overcoming logistical barriers to the transplantation (and engineering) of cartilage, bone, facial tissues, and a great many other anatomical structures
  • Mass casualty preparedness, by making stockpiles of transplantable bone marrow, skin, blood vessels, and other tissues available as medical countermeasures
  • Limb and tissue recovery for victims of traumatic amputation, explosions, and other disfiguring injuries – buying time for reattachment, especially relevant for wounded service members who are often far from advanced trauma centers
  • Bio-agent testing, allowing rapid identification of chemical or biological threats using banked slices of liver, heart, kidney or brain tissue
  • Treatment of acute organ failure, for instance by making whole or partial liver transplants a lifesaving option for victims of poisoning or traumatic injury – currently the number one cause of death in children and adolescents

The beneficiaries of these advances would be as diverse as their applications. Battlefield medicine, preparedness for natural disasters, counterterrorism, and routine emergency medicine could all see important advances as a result of preservation breakthroughs. In the coming years, this could add up to millions of patients worldwide whose lives are saved or improved.