The Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine is dedicated to repairing battlefield injuries through the use of regenerative medicine technology.
Conventional weapons and the destructive force of improvised explosive devices (IED) ravage face, neck, head and limbs, causing massive trauma and devastating tissue loss. These injuries can take years to treat and often result in significant lifelong impairment. The field of regenerative medicine holds great potential for treating military personnel with these disfiguring and disabling injuries. Regenerative medicine employs a variety of techniques, often using the patient’s own cells combined with degradable biomaterials and/or growth factors, to prompt and facilitate the body’s processes to regen¬erate cells and tissues. The ultimate goal is to deliver advanced therapies capable of making our Wounded Warriors whole.
The AFIRM began in March 2008 when the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), in partnership with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the U.S. Air Force (USAF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and the Defense Health Program (DHP) established the AFIRM to focus research centered on regenerative medicine for the treatment of battlefield injuries.
The AFIRM is a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary network of universities, military laboratories and investigators under the framework of a cooperative agreement. The network is designed to promote a seamless integration of development, from basic science research through translational and clinical research, as the best means of bringing regenerative medicine therapies to practice. The performance target of the first AFIRM effort was to test one regenerative therapeutic in one patient enrolled in a single clinical trial. The AFIRM has exceeded these original expectations by supporting nine clinical trials thus far and treating more than 200 patients with novel therapeutic strategies in wound repair and tissue replacement during the first five years of performance.
The success of the first five years of the AFIRM led to the competition of a new cooperative agreement in 2013. The areas of emphasis for research were adjusted to reflect the most pressing needs of our Wounded Warriors. Some focus areas were merged while new focus areas had been introduced and the investigators have been challenged to address an even greater number of military needs. The burn and scarless wound healing focus areas were consolidated under the skin regeneration focus area. Composite tissue allotransplantation and immunomodulation became a single focus area. Genitourinary and lower abdomen reconstruction was added as a new focus area. Therefore the new AFIRM II regeneration and repair research focus areas became skin regeneration, extremity repair, craniofacial reconstruction, genitourinary repair and lower abdomen reconstruction, and composite tissue allotransplantation (such as hand and face transplants) and immunomodulation. The new goal for the AFIRM II is to deliver capabilities that will transform the practice of medicine by finding innovative, regenerative medicine solutions (employing cells, scaffolds and novel biomaterials) to address challenging clinical problems for both Warfighters and the public at large.
The AFIRM cooperative agreements (the original AFIRM and AFIRM II) are managed at the U.S. Army Military Research and Materiel Command by the Congressionally Directed Military Research Program (CDMRP) with oversight from the Clinical and Rehabilitative Medicine Research Program (CRMRP) and the Tissue Injury and Regenerative Medicine (TIRM) Project Management Office. Science and Technology development is overseen by the CRMRP while advanced development is overseen by the TIRM.
AFIRM Changing Priorities and Focus:
Therapies developed by the AFIRM II program are intended to aid traumatically Wounded Warriors and civilians. The research will address trauma and restoration of function in each of the following five focus areas: extremity regeneration, craniomaxillofacial regeneration, skin regeneration, composite tissue allotransplantation and immunomodulation, and lower abdomen and genitourinary/ lower abdomen reconstruction. The goals of the program are to fund basic through translational regenerative medicine research and to position promising technologies and therapeutic/restorative practices for entrance into human clinical trials.