Tissue engineering is a multidisciplinary approach to a critical problem in modern medicine – the supply of organs and tissues for transplantation. Most people know that there are more patients waiting for hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys, e.t.c., than there are organs available. One of the goals of tissue engineering is to develop methods to construct organs in the laboratory that can subsequently be used in medical applications. Scientific advances in biomaterials, stem cells, growth and differentiation factors, and biomimetic environments have created unique opportunities to fabricate tissues in the laboratory from combinations of engineered extracellular matrices ("scaffolds"), cells, and biologically active molecules.
Another goal is to produce organs or tissues that can be used for research purposes. Such research might include testing new drugs, simulating diseases in order to develop better treatments and reducing the use of animal tissues and organs in biological research in general.
Tissue engineering utilizes living cells as the main materials. Examples include using living fibroblasts in skin replacement or repair, cartilage repaired with living chondrocytes, or other types of cells used in other ways. …
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