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Tissue engineering

Tissue engineering can perhaps be best defined as the use of a combination of cells, engineering materials, and suitable biochemical factors to improve or replace biological functions in an effort to effect the advancement of medicine.

A typical tissue engineering solution consists of a number of parts as alluded to above. This article will discuss each part in turn, along with its implications.

Table of contents
1 Cells
2 Engineering Materials
3 Related Pages
4 External Links


Tissue engineering relies upon using primarily living cells to effect solutions. These could be fibroblasts found within skin used for the creation of artificial skin solutions, chondrocytes found within cartilage for effecting cartilage repair, or many other types.

The cells may come from either the same body as they will be reimplanted (autologous), from another body to that in which they will be implanted (allogenic), or from another species (xenogenic). Autologous cells have the fewest problems in terms of rejection and pathogen transmission—however in the case of genetic disease, such cells are not available in a suitable form, and in the case of severe burns, for example, the cells will not be available in sufficient quantities. Autologous cells also have a time delay associated with them, during which time the cells are cultured and multiplied - this means autologus solutions cannot be fast.

For more information upon the sources of cells see this article on cell selection for tissue engineering.

Engineering Materials

Cells as found above are generally implanted, or 'seeded' into a scaffold material which serves at least one of the following purposes: A commonly used material is PLA - poly lactic acid. This is a material which degrades within the human body to form lactic acid, a naturally occurring chemical which is easily removed from the body. This means that during the time that cells are fabricating their own natural matrix structure around themselves, the PLA is able to provide structural integrity within the body, and eventually it will break down, leaving the neotissue (newly formed tissue which will take over the mechanical load).

Related Pages

External Links