In a major new medical study of regenerative medicine, Pentagon researchers, Army doctors, and a team of researchers at several of the nation's top medical facilities are attempting to help a soldier re-grow a finger that was lost to a bomb attack in Baghdad last year, according to a top story from CNN. The procedure, which involves applying a specially formulated powder to the wounded body part, was inspired by the regenerative abilities of salamanders.
The powder—nicknamed "pixie dust" by some of the people at Brooke Army Medical Center—is made from tissue extracted from pigs, and works by forming a microscopic lattice that attracts stem cells and convinced them to grow into the tissue that used to be there. The researchers consider re-growing a finger to be the first step which, if successful, could lead to further tests to grow replacement organs for patients in need of transplant.
This is another example of technology being developed for the U.S. military that could have far-reaching implications for civilians around the world. For example, since I'm not eligible for laser eye surgery, I've been telling people I'm willing to wait about fifteen years until the doctors can just grow me new eyes. With this technology, that timetable may even be possible.