ďA new branch of medicine will develop that attempts to change the course of chronic disease and in many instances will regenerate tired and failing organ systems.Ē Leland Kaiser
The elixir of life may still be evading us but the human ďspare parts industryĒ
is waiting in the wings to sustain manís desire for eternity.
The science of tissue engineering
is the core of an emerging branch of medicine, known as regenerative medicine,
which is expected to revolutionalize manís health and hugely improve his quality of life.
This new field is an amalgamation of biology, medicine and engineering
, and is believed to have mind -boggling implications if fully potentialized.
Tissue engineering, and the associated field of regenerative medicine, hopes to impact the lives of people world- wide by maintaining, restoring, or enhancing tissue and organ function. It deals with applications that repair or replace impaired body tissues
such as bones, cartilage, skin, blood vessel or bladder. First Experiments
The first of the experiments related to tissue engineering was carried out at MIT by Vacanti and Langar
They sprinkled chondrocytes with collagen
in scaffolds with 3D pores and co cultured the two in a bioreactors. Chondrocytes are mesenchyme-derived stem cells with a potential to grow into cartilage.
The scaffold was biodegradable; the chondrocytes
eventually replaced the collagen and the scientists successfully grew the tissue of an outer ear which was successfully grafted and grown on the back of a laboratory mouse.
This type of tissue culturing is also known as 3D cell culture or histo-cellular culture.
Later experiments revealed that epidermal stem cells derived from the foreskin
can be grown into keratinocytes
and those from the dermis can be grown into fibro blasts
. These cells can then be grown into the required tissue, mainly for skin grafts. This is employed in the fast- growing field of skin tissue engineering.
Anthony Atala, MD in 2006 at Wake Forest University had success with growing bladders in the laboratory from patientsí own cells. Cells and muscles from the damaged bladder of a patient was taken and grown on a biodegradable scaffold shaped like a bladder. The lining was then attached to the patientsí existing bladders.
Similarly trachea was grown in 2008 for a 30-year-old lady suffering from tuberculosis. These patients didnít require any drugs to suppress her immune system.
A beating ratís heart was created by researchers at the University of Minnesota, by the same technique.