Mesenchymal Stem Cell, Muscle Progenitor Cell, and Acellular Scaffold Treatment for Volumetric Muscle Loss Injuries; The Influence of Science Fiction on Medical Technologies

Zaino, Christopher, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Christ, George, EN-Biomed Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Foley, Rider, University of Virginia

Skeletal muscle naturally has enough healing capability to regenerate small injuries such as muscle tears, however larger injuries cause irreparable damage that results in poor mobility and muscle function. Current treatment for such injuries is limited, with no available method to regain lost muscle functionality. To address this issue, I aimed to develop a protocol for an integrated stem cell, skeletal muscle progenitor cell, and 3-dimensional scaffold that will improve tissue regeneration. As the capacity for medicine grows, though, so too does its ability to deepen social inequalities. The advancement of medicine can also challenge ethical understandings and bring new concerns to light. This is particularly true for medical devices, as they are commonly a barrier between life and death. Therefore, it is critical to consider how medical technology may be used in the future, how it will impact society, and who may have access to it. It is also important to fully realize the effect that public opinion, rhetoric, and excitement around new medical technology will have on its acceptance and eventual use. Different mediums can be powerful forces to spur conversation around technologies, and this research paper focuses specifically on science fiction.
The technological momentum framework is used to support the analysis of the public opinion and ethics surrounding medical technologies. Technological momentum is the idea that technologies are not autonomous, but instead have a direction and rate of growth that suggests a velocity or momentum. In order to collect the necessary evidence for this topic, there were three central methods used. The first method was collecting accounts of medical regulation debates that are related to a form of fiction. The second form of data collection was prior literature, such as specific novels that garnered discussions about the ethics around medicine. Thirdly, secondary accounts and research papers were used to gather data about the public rhetoric and opinions involving the literature and policy changes collected through the first two methods.
Through this research, I explored the extent to which technological momentum impacts the course of medical technologies, as well as how momentum can be built through mediums like science fiction. This highlights how dependent medical technologies are on public opinion, and in turn science fiction, for their acceptance. The technical and STS research performed showed system builders such as scientists and engineers that they need to understand the importance of technological momentum, be cognizant of the impact their work will have, and realize that advancements in medical technologies can be dangerous. The societal implications of technology are interwoven with its development, and system builders must take responsibility for its eventual use.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Volumetric Muscle Loss, Bioprinting, Stem Cell, Muscle Progenitor Cell, Science Fiction, Technological Momentum

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Engineering Science - Nanomedicine Engineering
Technical Advisor: George Christ
STS Advisor: Rider Foley

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