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Damaged Tissues and Organs Could be Repaired With New Scaffolding Technique
Date:7/16/2013

l the 3-D pore structure of scaffolds in many types of polymers, instead relying on 2-dimensional templates, random 3D pore structures, or amorphous gelatin. While relatively simple organs like bladders can be grown using such methods, for more complex tissues like the heart or the brain a 3-D structure to guide specialized cell growth patterns is necessary. “Scaffolds that guide 3-D cellular arrangements can enable the fabrication of tissues large enough to be of clinical relevance, and now we have developed a new tool to help do this,” Freed said.

Freed explains that this work is driven by “the shortage of human tissue in medicine,” explaining that this technology could be implemented to facilitate the growth or regrowth of specific tissues in people with congenital defects or traumatic damage to their tissues or organs. The flexible scaffolds could be implanted at the site of the injury to guide cellular growth, afterwards dissolving harmlessly into the body. Biomedical researchers can also take advantage of these scaffolds for purposes including studying tissue development and identifying key cues that prompt a blob of heart cells to grow into a fully functional, beating heart muscle, for example.

The new design paradigm of controlling the network pore structure marks a huge improvement on the current methods used to grow human tissues, and will enable researchers to explore innovative new treatments and research possibilities.

“This novel fabrication technology highlights how the NIH’s investment in regenerative medicine may soon improve the lives of patients with damaged or diseased organs,” noted Martha Lundberg, a program director at the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which supported this study. “This work could be a potentially significant advance in tissue engineering that will lead to new tissue-based therapies aimed at restoring or
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