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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Cityblog Science Club Riya's Blog: The Benefits of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine

Riya's Blog

The Benefits of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine

With the increasing number of patients enlisted in the transplant list, the supply of healthy organs is quite limited. This is demonstrated in the graph below:

The graph signifies that the number of patients enlisted on the transplant waitlist far surpasses the donors. This is alarming as there are so many patients whose life depends upon a new and healthy organ but organs are not available to them. 
            However, a new and growing branch of science which is known as tissue engineering is developing to propose a solution to this problem. With the help of various techniques implemented in tissue engineering, patients can receive temporary grafts until a healthy organ is available to them. 
            The various techniques and material implemented in tissue engineering to synthesize new grafts include:
·         Stem cells or regenerative medicine
·         Polymer scaffolds
·         Reprogramming or regeneration of the iPS cells
·         Amniotic fluid or the placental stem cells
·         Adult stem cells
·         Xenogenic cells

            All these methods or materials are currently being applied or being researched for implementing in the development of the graft. The importance of these materials have been discussed below:
Stem cells or regenerative medicine:
            I just cannot stop emphasizing on the importance and the greatness of the stem cells. Stem Cells are the type of cells that have the potential to develop into another tissue type. For example, the embryonic stem cells which are pluripotent, in nature, can differentiate into liver cells. Whereas the adult stem cells are the type of stem cells which are multipotent, this means their ability to divide into a germline is limited. The types of stem cells are summarized in the table below:

Regenerative medicine is a branch of biology where stem cells are used to develop new tissue. Today, through regenerative medicine it is possible to conduct skin replacement through tissue engineering. It has been speculated that through regenerative medicine it will be possible to develop an entire organ from the patient’s own cells in the lab itself ready for implants. Regenerative medicine includes tissue engineering, however, it also focuses on self-repair. 
Tissue Engineering:
            Tissue engineering is a field which is involved in combining scaffolds, living cells and biologically active tissue to help a damaged tissue repair. 
            In order to accomplish this task, a scaffold which can be made from natural components like protein or an artificial component like plastic. After the synthesis of a scaffold, cells of the specific type of tissue are introduced. The scaffold usually has growth factors to facilitate the growth of tissue. After this, the implant is introduced in the human body.
            A scaffold can also be made from the patient’s own cell. The cells from the patient are taken from the body and are allowed to grow on a scaffold. This process has successfully produced a human heart, liver, lung and kidney tissue. The development of scaffolds through this technique might not cause an immune response as the cell belongs to the patients themselves. Hence, making it a great advantage. However, this technique has still not gained widespread usage in medical practice. These processes are also costly. Currently, this type of organ development is used for research purposes. The future goal is to implement this process to replace a diseased organ with an organ developed in the lab. 
The method to make a scaffold is summarized in this image:

Through the applications of these new technologies, we can develop a new organ which can serve as a “replacement” to the diseased organ until a new healthy graft is available!

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