Tissue engineering is a biomedical technology that involves manipulation of cells’ growth to create living, bio-compatible tissues for the purposes of research or therapy (Chang & Gupta, 2010). This technology was used on a patient in Stockholm whereby his cancerous windpipe was replaced with another one made of plastic, a scaffold seeded with stem cells taken from his bone marrow.
Scaffolds are artificial structures that support three-dimensional tissue formations where cells are implanted so that they can influence their own micro-environments (Griffith & Melody, 2006). Scaffolds allow cell attachment and migration, and they biologically and mechanically influence the behavior modification of the cell phase. They also enhance the diffusion of vital cell nutrients as well as delivering and retaining cells and biochemical factors. Scaffolds are biodegradable to enable their absorption by the surrounding tissues hence eliminating the need for surgical removal (Griffith & Melody, 2006).
The patient’s scaffold was made from “a porous, fibrous plastic” which was stripped of its cells and then reseeded (New York Times, 2012) by fabrication using scans of his windpipe as a template. The patient’s stem cells were put in a nutrient solution and dripped by pipette over the scaffold and with the help of drugs that stimulate stem cells; the marrow cells put on the windpipe would be converted into the right kind of cells to form the windpipe (New York Times, 2012).
With continual research, tissue engineering will become main-stream as more breakthroughs are made. This will happen when more sources of harvestable ASC in the human body will get revealed in addition to clarification of the mechanisms of differentiation, manipulation, and control of the cells. Chang and Gupta, (2010) argue that with more research on the fundamentals of stem cells and the interaction of cytokines and cells, scientists might use them for local tissue repair as cellular therapy.