Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
The development of biomaterials effected to tissue engineering. It is also the practice of combining scaffolds, cells, and biologically active molecules into functional tissues. Its goal is to assemble functional constructs that restore, maintain, or improve damaged tissues or whole organs.
Regenerative medicine, on the other hand, refers to a broad field that includes tissue engineering, but also includes research on self- healing. The terms “tissue engineering”, and “regenerative medicine” have so identical, as the field aims to cure instead of treat for intricate, often chronic, diseases.
How do tissue engineering and regenerative medicine work?
Cells are the building blocks of tissue, and tissues are the basic unit of function in the body. These cells make and secrete their own support structures called extra- cellular matrix, which does not only act for support to the cells, but also plays as a relay station for various molecules. The cells then receive messages from many sources that become available from the local environment. Each signal makes a chain of responses that dictates what happens to the cell. Through researches on how individual cells respond and interact, and organize into tissues and organisms, researchers have started manipulating these processes to repair damaged tissues or even produce new ones.
The process starts with building a scaffold from a wide set of possible foundations, from protein to plastics. Once frameworks are created, cells with or without a “cocktail” of growth factors can be introduced. If the environment fits, a tissue develops. In some cases, the cells, scaffolds, and growth factors are all mixed together at once, allowing the tissue to “self-assemble.” Another method of creating new tissues uses an existing scaffold. The cells of a donor organ are stripped which leaves the used remaining collagen scaffold to grow new tissue. This process has been used to bioengineer heart, liver, lung, and kidney tissue.
This process holds a promising future for using scaffolding from human tissue discarded during surgery, and combining it with a patient’s cells to customize organs that would not be rejected by the immune system. How do tissue engineering and regenerative medicine fit in with current medical practices?
At this time, tissue engineering plays a somewhat small role in patient treatment. Although supplemental bladders, small arteries, skin grafts, cartilage, and even a full trachea have been implanted in patients, the procedures are still experimental and very costly.
More complex organ tissues like that of the heart, lung, and liver have been successfully recreated, but there is still a long way to go before it can fully reproduce and implant into a patient. These tissues are useful in research purposes however, especially in drug development.
The use of functioning human tissues to screen medication candidates could speed up development, and deliver main tools to enable customized medicine which saves money and reduce the number of animals used for research.
1. http://globenewswire.com/, RepliCel Life Sciences Inc.http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2015/03/10/713911/10123965/en/Canada-and-Japan-Leading-Innovation-in-Regenerative-Medicine-Two-Nations-Different-Strategies-One-Goal-Addressing-Incurable-Medical-Conditions.html