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Pentagon Plans to Regrow Human Body Parts

Soldiers wounded in combat will someday regrow their limbs -- if the Pentagon has its way.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has just given Massachusetts' Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) a $570,000, one-year contract to get a mammal, preferably a human, to regenerate a large body part such as a finger or even a limb.

That's Phase II of DARPA's "Restorative Injury Repair" project, which according to the DARPA Web page "will culminate in the restoration of a functional multi-tissue structure in a mammal."

WPI's CellThera for-profit unit has already achieved Phase I, which according to the school's press release "succeeded in reprogramming mouse and human skin cells to act more like stem cells, able to form the early structures needed to begin the process of re-growing lost tissues."

"The goal is to genuinely replace a muscle that's lost," WPI bioengineering researcher Raymond Page told Wired News. "I appreciate that's a very aggressive goal."

Some salamanders can regrow lost limbs, and some lizards lost tails. But humans can generally regrow only their livers, and have to have at least one-quarter of the previous one still intact for it to happen.

• Click here to read the Wired News writeup.

• Click here for the Worcester Polytechnic Institute press release.

• Click here for a brief synopsis of DARPA's Restorative Injury Repair project.

• Click here for FOXNews.com's Patents and Innovation Center.