January 20, 2022
Bethesda, MD, January 20, 2022 - The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc. (HJF) received nearly $2M to support a study to evaluate a treatment for volumetric muscle loss (VML), a condition US military surgeons define as the irrecoverable loss of skeletal muscle tissue. VML is frequently found in Service members with traumatic limb injuries.
The study, entitled “Evaluation of a Novel Dual Anti-fibrotic and Pro-regenerative Strategy to Facilitate Improved Functional Outcomes in the Treatment of Volumetric Muscle Loss,” is led by Dr. Christopher Dearth, Chief of the Research & Surveillance (R&S) Division within the DoD-VA Extremity Trauma & Amputation Center of Excellence (EACE), and Dr. Stephen Goldman, Senior Scientist for the EACE R&S team embedded within the Department of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU).
VML is a leading factor in amputation decisions and a principal driver of long-term disability. The condition is believed to result in a prolonged inflammatory response that leads to fibrosis, or the development of scar tissue. This scar tissue is thought to prevent skeletal muscle regrowth and repair.
“Humans, particularly as adults, don’t have a great deal of regenerative capability. Rather, a hallmark response of the body to traumatic injury is to try to repair the damaged tissue as soon as possible to try and mitigate the bad things that happen – for example, creation of a fibrotic and scarred response,” said Dr. Dearth. “Skeletal muscles are one of the more regenerative tissues of the body, but VML injuries exceed this regenerative capacity, and the result is massive scar tissue formation.”
Drs. Dearth and Goldman have worked on VML for years and are among the most published researchers on the subject. Their passion for providing improved outcomes to our nation’s warfighters inspired them to begin this new study.
“Can we modify the default wound healing response to cause less long-term functional impairment by giving an intervention that we think will provide a pro-regenerative outcome?” asks Dr. Dearth. “Therapies exist that treat fibrotic ailments in other tissues and injuries. This study will begin to assess if one of those treatments also improves the outcomes from VML.”
Dr. Dearth’s research team will examine the ability of existing treatments, which have shown promise in treating lung, skin, and liver fibrosis. The hope is to find one that could then be used to provide a near-term solution for VML. According to Dr. Dearth, one of the questions is “Can we repurpose something already out there versus trying to create something from scratch in order to get it out to patients sooner?”
“HJF has a long history of providing support to medical research that benefits warfighters, especially when it comes to translational work bridging the gap between research and product,” said HJF President and CEO Dr. Joseph Caravalho. “HJF supports work from bench to bedside to battlefield, and we are proud to partner with Dr. Dearth and his team as they search for a treatment for VML.”
This work was supported by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), in the amount of $1,998,062, through the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) under Award No. W81XWH2120014. The U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, 820
Chandler Street, Fort Detrick MD 21702-5014 is the awarding and administering acquisition office.
Opinions, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations are those of HJF and quoted individuals and are not necessarily endorsed by the Department of Defense.
The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc. (HJF) is a global nonprofit that administers more than $500 million in medical research funds annually. For nearly 40 years, HJF has partnered with researchers and clinicians to provide bench to bedside to battlefield research support. More than 3,000 HJF teammates ensure HJF is a trusted and responsive partner by providing scientific, administrative, and program operations services to researchers in the military, academia, and private industry. For more information, visit hjf.org.