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Written by prositesdentalJun 22 • 2 minute read

When you suffer serious injury, you may need to replace the tissue in the affected area to restore function and help with healing. This is where tissue engineering comes in. It aims at regenerating damaged or lost tissues and organs by creating substitutes in the lab using cells.

Tissue engineering is part of regenerative medicine which combines engineering principles with biological components like stem cells and synthetic materials to create tissue and organ substitutes. These substitutes can then be implanted in patients to replace damaged tissues. Continue reading to discover more about this medical innovation.

Components of Tissue Engineering

Tissue engineering involves three main components: cells, scaffolds, and growth factors. Below is a breakdown of how tissue engineering works.

1. Cells

Every tissue or organ consists of cells. During tissue engineering, scientists isolate the necessary stem cells for seeding and tissue generation. These cells can be from the patient or a close relative and be from any part of the body. However, cells from the patient stand a better chance of success as the body rarely rejects them.

2. Scaffolds

After isolating the necessary cells, scientists create a framework or support system for the cells known are scaffolds. They are 3-dimensional structures where the cells are placed to attach and grow. Scaffolds can be from synthetic materials or natural polymers like collagen and fibrin. They can also be a combination of both.

3. Growth Factors

Growth factors are substances that enhance cell growth and development. They act like signals that direct the cells on how to behave. For example, growth factors may signal the cells to multiply or divide. These growth factors can also determine what type of cells the stem cells can become. Usually, these growth factors reach the cells through a controlled release system for even distribution.

As the cells grow, they arrange themselves on the scaffolds to mimic the target tissue or organ. For example, if the process aims at creating skin tissue, the cells will assemble to form a skin structure that looks and functions like normal skin. The tissue can then undergo implantation, where it integrates with the patient’s surrounding tissues and starts working.

Candidates for Tissue Engineering

Though the potential of tissue engineering is great, there are still limitations to what tissue can be grown. Some of the current uses for tissue engineering include:

  • Skin to treat severe burns
  • Bone tissue
  • Nervous tissue
  • Blood vessels
  • Heart valves
  • Bowel tissues

While scientists have successfully engineered the above tissues and even implanted most of them, they are not the only applications. Other potential applications for tissue engineering include corneal tissues, blood, skeletal muscles, the reproductive system, and the gastrointestinal system.

Tissue Engineering to Meet Your Needs

Tissue engineering is an advancement in the medical field with promising prospects in treating various illnesses and restoring function to damaged organs and tissues. It has also improved the success of procedures like skin grafts in patients, providing both medical and cosmetic benefits. With proper research and technology, tissue engineering is expected to significantly improve the success of reconstructive surgeries. If you’re interested in tissue regeneration, a trusted plastic surgeon or medical professional can help answer any questions you may have.

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