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Bioessays. 2013 Mar;35(3):163-72. doi: 10.1002/bies.201200062. Epub 2012 Sep 20.

Organ engineering--combining stem cells, biomaterials, and bioreactors to produce bioengineered organs for transplantation.

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Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, NC, USA.


Often the only treatment available for patients suffering from diseased and injured organs is whole organ transplant. However, there is a severe shortage of donor organs for transplantation. The goal of organ engineering is to construct biological substitutes that will restore and maintain normal function in diseased and injured tissues. Recent progress in stem cell biology, biomaterials, and processes such as organ decellularization and electrospinning has resulted in the generation of bioengineered blood vessels, heart valves, livers, kidneys, bladders, and airways. Future advances that may have a significant impact for the field include safe methods to reprogram a patient's own cells to directly differentiate into functional replacement cell types. The subsequent combination of these cells with natural, synthetic and/or decellularized organ materials to generate functional tissue substitutes is a real possibility. This essay reviews the current progress, developments, and challenges facing researchers in their goal to create replacement tissues and organs for patients.

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