Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials
Although the goal of regenerative medicine is to maintain the body in such a way that there no need to replace an entire organ, some conditions and diseases are so destructive that the only way traditional medicine can cure them is by giving the patients new organs. For instance, many Americans are affected by heart diseases and heart transplant is the only current solution. However, there is no guarantee that the body will not reject the donated foreign organ even if the patient can survive long enough to receive it. Heart diseases affect the heart valves causing them to fail, and the only ways to replace them is by implanting pig aortic valve or mechanical devices. However, complications such as rejections and blood clots are common. Also, pig aortic values are chemically treated to prevent rejection but the chemicals used changes the biological make-up of cells rendering them helpless to regenerate when there is a minor tear. Regenerative medicine researchers have already grown heart valves from human stem cells. Molds created using biomaterials have enabled scientists to engineer cells to grow in the form of heart valves. Once tissue engineering is mastered during clinical trials, any transplant patient will be able to receive heart valve that is their own, making rejection a non-issue. The Foundation for Regenerative Medicine is carrying out researches with the hope that physicians will one day repair heart valves without performing surgeries. Also, the Foundation is also conducting studies on how human stem cells can be utilized to grow eye cornea, kidney, amputated parts, pancreas, sections of the brain, and knocked off teeth.