They were men who had suffered unimaginable injuries.
Two of them were ex-soldiers, wounded by explosives. They had lost anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of the muscles in their legs.
Things seemed hopeless even after surgery and physical therapy. Then came an experimental study, involving pig bladders from research swine.
This was in 2014, when scientists at the University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine found that cells derived from pig bladders could work with human stem cells to rebuild the muscles in the men’s legs.
“Most of these patients have been through hell,” said Dr. Stephen Badylak, senior study author, told the LA Times. “The things that you and I take for granted — getting out of a chair, taking steps, getting off a curb, getting out of the car — these are the types of deficits that these individuals had.”
But with the porcine bladder treatment, that began to change for at least some of the men.
Three of the five patients saw a significant improvement in their ability to stand, walk and climb in the months after a porcine extracellular matrix was implanted in their leg during surgery. These porcine cells boosted the stem cells’ ability to form dense muscle tissue.
“When you lose so much muscle that the gap is too large for the normal restorative processes to occur, the end result is typically filling that gap with scar tissue,” Badylak said.
The study found that the three men who saw improvements gained a 20 percent increase in strength and a 25 percent boost in functionality in the six months following their surgery.
This study is yet another example of how research swine can lead to improvements in human health. We say that whenever we publish a new blog post, but this study stands out.
That’s because the pigs in question came from our facility. It’s one thing to know our research swine contributed to a landmark study, but quite another to learn that they helped someone walk again.
We’re proud of the work our animals helped the researchers accomplish and look forward to contributing research swine to help in similar breakthroughs in the future.
In addition to offering live porcine models and pig cadavers, we’re also happy to offer clients our expertise when it comes to testing and housing live animals.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you make your next discovery with the help of our high-quality research swine.