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Book: Tissue Engineering (2010)

The term Tissue Engineering was initially defined at the National Science Foundation (NSF) meeting in 1988 as the “application of the principles and methods of engineering and life sciences toward fundamental understanding of structure-function relationships in normal and pathological mammalian tissues and the development of biological substitutes for the repair or regeneration and to restore, maintain or improve tissue or organ function” (Shalak and Fox, 1988). Researchers at that time recognized the potential of Tissue Engineering to facilitate the first medical therapy where engineered tissues become fully integrated within the patient, thus offering a permanent cure for many diseases.

Over the following years Tissue Engineering progressed rapidly and first biological substitutes were developed for several tissues in the body. Today, Tissue Engineering is one of the major approaches of Regenerative Medicine and a growing and exciting field of research. In combination with better understanding of structure, biology, physiology and cell culture techniques Tissue Engineering may offer new treatment options for patients in need for replacement or repair of a deteriorated organ.  The concept of Tissue Engineering has been applied clinically for a variety of disorders, for example artificial skin for burn patients, tissue engineered trachea, cartilage for knee-replacement procedures, injectable chondrocytes for the treatment of vesico-ureteric reflux and urinary incontinence to name a few.

The classical approaches of Tissue Engineering have not changed over the last three decades. The principle is to dissociate cells from a tissue biopsy, to expand these cells in culture, and to seed them onto the scaffold material in vitro in order to form a living tissue construct prior to implantation into the recipient’s organism. In the appropriate biochemical and biomechanical environment these tissues will unfold their full functional potential and serve as native tissue equivalents. Tissue Engineering products may be fully functional at the time of treatment, or else have potential to integrate and evolve into the expected functional tissue after implantation.

The Tissue Engineering approach has major advantages over traditional organ transplantation and circumvents the problem of organ shortage. Tissues that closely match the patient’s needs can be reconstructed from readily available biopsies and subsequently be implanted with minimal or no immunogenicity. This eventually conquers several limitations encountered in tissue transplantation approaches.

This book serves as a good starting point for anyone interested in the application of Tissue Engineering. It offers a colorful mix of topics, which explain the obstacles and possible solutions for TE applications.  The first part covers the use of stem cells and adult stem cells and their applications. The following chapters offer an insight into the development of a tailored biomaterial for organ replacement and highlight the importance of cell-biomaterial interaction. As more and more applications move toward clinical application, a reliable preclinical model system to evaluate the developed techniques becomes crucial. Several animal models and Tissue Engineering approaches for a variety of organ systems are presented in the final chapters. In summary, this book offers insights into a wide variety of cells, biomaterials, interfaces and applications of the next generation biotechnology, which is Tissue Engineering.

 
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