It is interesting to see more researchers willing to place timelines on the regeneration or tissue engineering of replacement limbs, as is the case here. It is a sign of confidence and progress in the foundations of the field. So far the closest approach to this goal has been the decellularization of donor rat limbs, followed by replacement of cells with those of a potential recipient to produce a leg ready for transplantation, but it seems to me just as likely that human limb regrowth will result from advances in the understanding of regeneration in species like salamanders, in which individuals are capable of regenerating lost limbs.
The University of Connecticut has announced the launch of its new grand research challenge: regeneration of a human knee within 7 years, and an entire limb within 15 years. This major international research undertaking, called The HEAL Project, stands for Hartford Engineering a Limb. This is a collaboration of top tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and bioengineering experts dedicated to the mission of advancing the fields and developing future therapies for patients living with musculoskeletal defects or who have limb injury or loss. "The launch of the HEAL Project is a transformative moment for science and medicine. This is the first international effort ever for knee and limb engineering. The time is now to pursue this much needed grand challenge to benefit those patients suffering from debilitating knee injuries, osteoarthritis, or affected by the devastating effects of limb injury or loss."
Researchers project it will take 7 to 15 years for first knee and then limb regeneration breakthroughs based on the time it took to successfully regenerate bone and ligaments. To work toward its milestones, HEAL will be building upon the latest advances in regenerative engineering, tissue regeneration, stem cell research, nano-materials science, physics, developmental biology, and advanced manufacturing. In addition, researchers will conduct clinical trials to test any new promising therapies. "Our research group will harness the concepts of convergence, bringing together our talents, latest scientific knowledge, research advances, and cutting-edge tools to help make our grand challenge of knee and limb regeneration a reality."