03:20 AM

Good as new? KU tissue engineering steps in when injured bodies can't do it alone

A badly broken jawbone - bad enough to require a total joint replacement - leaves patients with permanently implanted plastic and metal.

"Wouldn't it be nice if you could just replace it, and it'd be like new?" Kansas University engineering professor Michael Detamore says.

And when he says "like new" he doesn't mean bionic.

Detamore, a biomedical engineer, specializes in tissue engineering. In his labs at KU, he and students are building various replacement parts designed to transform over time into the real thing.

Doctors encounter all kinds of injuries and conditions where the body can't heal itself, Detamore said. "We're trying to creatively solve those problems."

Bob Weatherly, otolaryngology section chief at Children's Mercy Hospital, operates on young children with narrowed airways.

He cuts open the trachea, expands it and patches it with some of the child's own rib cartilage or sometimes a piece of the child's ear.

"It works, but it leaves an area that we have to harvest from that could potentially have problems," Weatherly said. Pain, infection and the piece not fitting right are all risks.

Read more via Lawrence Journal-World