BAR HARBOR, MAINE – Dustin Shillcox was 26 years old when doctors told him he’d never move his legs again.
In August, 2010, Shillcox was driving the company truck on the interstate near Green River, Wyoming. A tire blew out, the truck flipped over, and Dustin was flung through the window. He broke his back, sternum, elbow, and four ribs. His lungs collapsed and he injured his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.
But today, Dustin can move his legs and toes, and is working on his sit ups and back extensions, thanks to an experimental research study led by Claudia Angeli, Ph.D., senior researcher at the Human Locomotion Research Center at Frazier Rehab in Louisville, KY.
Angeli will be joined by Shillcox to present a keynote presentation at Regen2015, an international symposium at the MDI Biological Laboratory, on Friday, June 26. The two-day symposium will bring more than 200 top experts in regenerative medicine will share their latest discoveries with the scientific community, and talk about where the field can potentially go.
The scientists will also offer a series of free lectures designed to educate the general public about the broad range of research that makes up the field of regenerative medicine—and how it can actually change people’s lives, today and in the future.
The experimental treatment that Shillcox received is just one dramatic example of how research in regenerative medicine changes lives. A new therapy called spinal cord epidural stimulation has enabled Shillcox—and all three of the other paraplegic men who participated in the study—to regain voluntary movement. It’s a potential game-changer for the 1.25 million individuals in the US who suffer paralysis as a result of a spinal cord in jury.
In conjunction with the symposium, the MDI Biological Laboratory will host a two-week, hands-on course in comparative regenerative biology taught by outstanding scientists from around the world.
Students will have the opportunity to learn the techniques and processes for working in the lab with four model systems commonly used in regenerative biology research—hydra, planaria, salamander, and zebrafish — to identify the genes responsible for regeneration.
“These organisms have the natural ability to repair damaged tissues,” says course organizer Voot Yin, Ph.D. “They are instrumental in revealing what is important at a cellular and genetic level in regeneration, and they serve as platforms for developing therapies to improve people’s lives.”
More information about the course, symposium and public lecture series is available at mdibl.org.