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A Systems Approach to Tissue Engineering

Autor:   •  January 21, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  3,417 Words (14 Pages)  •  983 Views

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Abstract—The purpose of this paper is to present an alternative approach to the study of tissue engineering. It examines the current approaches to tissue engineering and analyses their prospects. It goes on to give a description of the systems approach as defined by Bertalanffy, Kitano and Hood. The author then proposes an application of the systems approach to the study of tissue engineering and introduces some of the biomolecular and software tools required to pursue this approach. It is the author's beleif that a systems approach to tissue engineering will render the highly complex set of problems faced in tissue engineering tractable.

I. INTRODUCTION

T

ISSUE engineering emerged from the field of biomaterials in the late 1980's with the concept of bioactive materials. Since then it has grown in scope, investment and potential benefits [1].

Tissue engineering now holds the promise of producing functional cells, tissues and even organs for supporting or replacing diseased, injured or aged portions of the body [1]. It is because of the complex interplay of the numerous intrinsic and extrinsic factors involved in the renewal and development of the various tissues of the body, that a systems approach to studying biology must be widely adopted if tissue engineering is to realize its full potential.

II. CURRENT APPROACHES TO TISSUE ENGINEERING

Currently two main approaches to creating engineered replacement tissues are being pursued. The first is the bioactive materials approach which has its roots in biomaterials. It initially emerged with the concept of creating materials for implantation that are bioactive and promote healing, rather than employing materials that are simply biologically inert. This approach begins with existing tissue and engineering materials as its building blocks and strives to encourage regeneration by tailoring the microenvironment of the implant to promote structured colonization by a desired population of existing cells [1]. The second approach to tissue engineering is based on the discovery of embryonic stem cells and the cloning of mammals, both occurring in the late 1990's. The stem cell approach to tissue engineering also falls under the terms "therapeutic cloning" and "regenerative medicine". Its aim is to duplicate and differentiate precursor cells to into target cell types and if needed use these cells along with bioactive engineered structures to create artificial tissues and organs.

The bioactive materials approach to tissue engineering focuses on addressing immediate biomedical engineering concerns in areas such as replacement joints, dental implants, artificial vascular grafts and even biodegradable sutures. Currently the emphasis is on making modifications to materials that encourage either integration with the surrounding

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