SENS4, Session 21: Tissue engineering

Gabor Forgacs gave a very interesting talk about using bioprinting to build entire organs from scratch. He argued that while traditional scaffold-based methods of tissue engineering work for thin tissues, they are not appropriate for thick, complex tissues. They have designed a computer-aided printing system that can put down layers of single cells according to a blueprint, and are applying it to produce vascular and nerve grafts.

Sally Dickinson spoke about the first transplant of a tissue-engineered airway, which took place in June 2008. She played a cool video explaining the whole procedure, which is up on youtube. Using a donor trachea, they first treated it to remove all the donor’s cells; they then took some stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow, turned them into chondrocytes, grew them up and seeded them onto the scaffold; finally, they transplanted the engineered trachea into the patient.

(For an index of coverage of all sessions, see here.)