Winston-Salem -- If you do not know what the term "regenerative medicine" refers to, you should. The field of medical research is helping transform the Triad's economy.
"It is a very, very promising field," explained Mark Van Dyke, who works at The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. "Unlike pharmaceuticals that treat symptoms with drugs, we're trying to use cells, proteins, genes, and engineered tissues to treat the source of diseases."
According to the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, the Institute has already contributed significantly to the local economy. "Millions of dollars have come into the community in federal and state grants to support this new industry," explained Peggy Low, Senior Vice President of Technology. "It's creating jobs. These are good jobs, high-paying jobs."
The Institute's efforts to re-grow limbs using human cells have garnered the attention of the U.S. Department of Defense, according to Van Dyke. "If part of a limb is lost due to an explosion or an amputation afterward, maybe some time in the future, although it may be the very distant future, we'll be able to grow entire limbs," he explained.
The Institute is currently being considered for a $100 million grant from the DOD, which would fund an Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine. "It's a big, big program," said Van Dyke. "All of the technology that funding is going support will eventually be spun out of the lab into partnerships with industry, existing companies, as well as formation of new companies."
"The impact on our community could be absolutely huge," added Low. "Primarily, it means jobs for this community. It means construction. It means dollars coming into the community to support our economy."
According to Wake Forest University officials, there is no word on when the DOD will announce the recipient of the $100 million grant.
WFMY News 2