Friday, March 10, 2006

GIVING SOLDIERS THE FINGER

Men and women lose limbs in battle. The federal government is spending money trying to figure out a way to regrow those lost limbs in the lab. MSNBC reports:
Like no war before, the war in Iraq has seen unprecedented numbers of injuries due to surprise bomb attacks. And like no other war before, troops are often surviving those attacks, though many of them lose limbs or suffer severe burns. That has led researchers to create the Soldier Treatment and Regeneration Consortium with the goal of growing back body parts, like ears and fingers, and treating burns.

Researchers say the advancements could have a broad impact well beyond the battlefield. The consortium, which includes the backing of the military, received $1 million in funding from the federal government last week.

"It's a starting point and it will enable us to get organized and prepare and hopefully treat one or two patients this year and generate clinical experience," said Alan J. Russell, director of the University of Pittsburgh's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and executive director of the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative.

The new consortium's five-year goal is to create a fully functioning finger.

For about five years, researchers at the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative have been running the National Tissue Engineering Center, a Defense Department-supported institute that strives to improve the survival of those with life-threatening injuries.

But the need for speedier developments became apparent as American military forces became injured in Iraq, Russell said. According to the Department of Defense, 6 percent of the more than 16,000 soldiers wounded in Iraq have required amputations.

"The need is very, very easy to see unfortunately," Russell said.
Nothing like pissing a million bucks down a drain hole and calling it worthy research. Does anyone think the five-year goal of a functioning finger is realistic?

And, you know, an easier way to drastically reduce the number of amputees would be to end the war in Iraq.

2 comments:

JJ said...

Not pissing, progressing.
This effort is the very definition of worthy research.
We spend much more on NASA with less clear and realistic visions of progress.
Two thumbs up!

Anonymous said...

Seconds to JJ. War is hell. But in a very twisted way, especially beginning with the Korean War, it has hastened a host of new technologies that have greatly helped people who never went near the battlefield. Skin grafts, organ and tissue transplants, prosthetics improvements, and perhaps most significant of all, antibiotics might not have come along as quickly if not for the unfortunate urgency of casualties' demands.

Sure, it can be argued that if we hadn't spent gazillions of dollars (and lives) on fighting, we might have redirected those same investments toward peacetime progress. But has that ever been our nature?