“We will keep faith with our Marines, our Sailors and their families. Our approach to caring for Marines and Sailors, families and relatives of our fallen is based on our unwavering loyalty.”
– Gen. James F. Amos, 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps
A decade in United States Central Command has produced a paradox in military medicine. While DoD has enjoyed a 98 percent survival rate among critically injured Marines and Sailors due to advances in far-forward medicine and casualty evacuation, it has also resulted in the survival of more service members with catastrophic life-changing injuries. Our Wounded Warriors have an increased need for reconstruction and rehabilitation in a younger population over a longer period of time. Regenerative Medicine (RM) offers better treatment outcomes and improved quality of life with potential cost savings when compared to conventional therapies.
Wounded Warrior Injuries Treated By “Game Changing” Regenerative Medical Solutions
- Limb Amputations – Transplant medicine (e.g. hand) that leverages many aspects of Regenerative Medicine.
- Extremity Reconstruction – Bone, vascular, soft tissue and nerve repair/regeneration.
- Burn Repair/Scarless Wound Healing – Synthetic skin, infection control, and scar management.
- Craniofacial Injuries – Face transplants. Bone and soft tissue regeneration to improve function and esthetics.
- Genitourinary Trauma – Reconstruction/regeneration to restore urinary, cosmetic and reproductive function.
- Nerve and spinal cord damage – Stem cell regenerative therapies. Nerve repair that benefits other injuries.
Cost Savings When Compared to Conventional Treatment Options
- Investments in Regenerative Medicine are measured in millions of dollars, e.g. Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM) is federally funded for $85 million dollars over five years.
- Estimates of government (DoD/VA) costs for Wounded Warrior care are in the 100s of billions of dollars based on conventional reconstruction and rehabilitation needs.
- Regenerative Medicine offers a rare opportunity to “invest millions to save billions of dollars”.
Challenges Delaying Regenerative Medicine Research and Therapies
- Funding hurdles: RM research requires significant investment (in the millions of dollars). Will require partnering with Private Industry.
- Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA): New paradigm will require a fresh look at antiquated standards and processes in order to expedite the Promise of Regenerative Medicine.
- Education of Line, Medical and Congressional Leadership as well as Wounded Warriors and their families of treatment availability, ongoing studies/clinical trials, potential cost savings of Regenerative Medicine.
Last month Rear Adm. Michael H. Mittelman, U.S. Navy deputy surgeon general, joined national leaders from the American Society for Reconstructive Transplantation (ASRT) partners in what is known in the medical community as vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA) as one of the keynote speakers emphasizing Navy Medicine advancements in the field. To read the Navy News story click here.