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Wake Forest Institute and Virginia Tech form Center for Veterinary Regenerative Medicine

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Jan. 24, 2011 -- The Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has joined with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine to form the Virginia Tech/Wake Forest Center for Veterinary Regenerative Medicine (CVRM). Researchers from both organizations will work collaboratively to develop new regenerative medicine treatments for animals and human patients.

The goal of the new center is to conduct “translational” research to turn discoveries currently made at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine into innovative treatments to benefit patients. New therapies will also be developed at Virginia Tech. The focus is on regenerative medicine, a field of science devoted to engineering replacement tissues and organs in the laboratory or using cell therapies to restore organ and tissue function.

Through the new institute, clients of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital may have the option to enter their pets into clinical trials of new therapies.  These trials will enable Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine researchers to understand more about diseases that affect both animals and humans and to more quickly assess the efficacy of regenerative treatments to remedy clinical conditions.

Researchers at the veterinary college believe the agreement represents a win-win for both animals and humans. “The CVRM is a tremendous opportunity to provide new medical alternatives for animals, including loved household pets, while generating scientific knowledge that can save and transform human lives,” said Roger Avery, senior associate dean of research and graduate studies at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.

Examples of projects under way or in startup mode include treatments to induce kidney regeneration in cats with chronic kidney failure, wound healing treatments for horses, new tests to rapidly identify microbes causing infection so treatment can begin quickly, treatments for weakened heart muscles (cardiomyopthy) in dogs, and using muscle stem cells to treat dogs with spay-induced induced incontinence, a recurring problem in spayed female dogs.

“It is an honor to collaborate with our veterinary colleagues in this unique partnership to accelerate the development of new regenerative medicine therapies,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

J. Koudy Williams, D.V.M., professor at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, will serve as the lead faculty member from the institute. Willard H. Eyestone, research assistant professor of reproductive biology and biotechnology at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, will act as CVRM lead faculty member at the veterinary college and the liaison to Wake Forest.

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