Editor’s note: Veteran journalist Jim Shamp is Senior Editor at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Dogs, cats, horses and other animals may get a new lease on life and health, while also helping in the development of human therapies.

It’s the upshot of a regenerative medicine partnership announced by officials of North Carolina State University and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. (Read details here.)

Another big benefit: the agreement also heightens North Carolina’s global leadership in the amazing world of cell- by-cell body-building.

NCSU, housing North Carolina’s only veterinary school, and the private medical center in Winston-Salem that has become a world leader in regenerative medicine, have agreed to pool resources to commercialize technologies that can rebuild damaged organs in people and pets.

Jorge Piedrahita, Ph.D., professor of genomics at NCSU and interim director of the university’s Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research (CCMTR), said the collaboration with the famed Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is expected to begin benefiting companion animals soon, while also speeding up the process of bringing these unique new therapies to humans.

The CCMTR involves more than 100 scientists conducting research with government, private, and academic partners to advance knowledge and practical applications that improve the health of animals and humans.

Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, said he’s “delighted” with the partnership. Atala leads more than 250 scientists from a wide range of disciplines who are growing tissues and organs and developing healing cell therapies for more than 30 different areas of the body.

Atala is one of two North Carolina physicians elected to the 2011 class of the Institute of Medicine, one of the nation’s highest honors for U.S. physicians.

The other is David Rubinow, M.D., who is the Assad Meymandi distinguished professor, chair of the department of psychiatry and professor of medicine in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This year’s class of 65 from across the nation brings the IOM’s total membership to 1,870. IOM was established in 1970 as the health branch of the National Academy of Sciences.

(C) North Carolina Biotechnology Center

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