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Department of Surgery
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 Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
Clinical Research


Research Activities

The Plastic Surgery Research Laboratory is currently conducting numerous research studies, including those related to gene therapy in wound healing, tissue engineering, and the study of bone substitutes.

A major focus of the laboratory is on applications of gene therapy to wound healing. Using gene therapy, growth factor genes (such as PDGF and VEGF) are introduced to wounds using different techniques, including retroviral vectors, and used to expedite the healing of these wounds. Recent publications and presentations have included the use of this gene therapy in the healing of both ischemic and diabetic wounds, with improved healing seen in these treated wounds. The laboratory is also investigating the use of stem cells for tissue regeneration. We have used in vitro manipulation of these stem cells to successfully differentiate these cells into osteocytes, chondrocytes, and adipocytes. The use of various bone substitutes is also being investigated to expedite bone healing.

Research Activities Include:

  • Tissue Engineering
  • Gene Therapy
  • Wound Healing
  • Bone Substitutes
  • Outcomes Assessment in Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery

Tissue Engineering

Current studies in tissue engineering are focusing on the use of stem cells derived from fat which can be differentiated into bone, cartilage, and fat. We have shown that these stem cells can be isolated from adult fat tissue, and differentiate into bone, cartilage, or fat depending on the tissue culture conditions. This work will be presented at the upcoming Plastic Surgery Research Council meeting.

Gene Therapy

We are focusing on the use of gene therapy in the treatment of diabetic wounds. We have treated diabetic animal wounds with cultured fibroblasts retrovirally transduced with the platelet derived growth factor (PDGF) gene, and have shown improved healing in these wounds. This study "Accelerated diabetic wound healing using cultured dermal fibroblasts retrovirally transduced with the PDGF-B gene" was presented at the recent Northeastern Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Wound Healing

A recent study conducted in the Plastic Surgery Research Laboratory examined the histologic effects of retention sutures in a rat model. As retention sutures increased the early inflammatory response and long-term disorderly collagen formation in this model, the results did not support the use of retention sutures.

Bone Substitutes

Numerous studies have been conducted within the Plastic Surgery Division in the area of cranial bone formation. One study showed that absorbable plates and screws, a relatively new technology, do not inhibit new bone formation. Another study has shown that absorbable plates can be safely used as a scaffold for a hydroxyapatite resin bone paste to reconstruct large cranial defects.

To learn more about ongoing studies click here.


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