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Whole-organ bioengineering: current tales of modern alchemy

Published:January 13, 2014DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2014.01.004
      End-stage organ disease affects millions of people around the world, to whom organ transplantation is the only definitive cure available. However, persistent organ shortage and the resulting widespread transplant backlog are part of a disturbing reality and a common burden felt by thousands of patients on waiting lists in almost every country where organ transplants are performed. Several alternatives and potential solutions to this problem have been sought in past decades, but one seems particularly promising now: whole-organ bioengineering. This review describes briefly the evolution of organ transplantation and the development of decellularized organ scaffolds and their application to organ bioengineering. This modern alchemy of generating whole-organ scaffolds and recellularizing them with multiple cell types in perfusion bioreactors is paving the way for a new revolution in transplantation medicine. Furthermore, although the first generation of bioengineered organs still lacks true clinical value, it has created a number of novel tissue and organ model platforms with direct application in other areas of science (eg, developmental biology and stem cell biology, drug discovery, physiology and metabolism). In this review, we describe the current status and numerous applications of whole-organ bioengineering, focusing also on the multiple challenges that researchers have to overcome to translate these novel technologies fully into transplantation medicine.

      Abbreviations:

      ECM (extracellular matrix), hESC (human embryonic stem cell), mESC (murine embryonic stem cell), TESI (tissue-engineered small intestine)
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